The Stephenson County board has been obvious in its support of wind farm development. Members disregarded the recommendation of the zoning committee and voted to issue special use permits for projects being proposed by Navitas Energy of Minneapolis and Freeport-based EcoEnergy LLC, a division of The Morse Group. Not long ago, again acting against the recommendation of the zoning committee, county board members decided to revise the definition of prime agricultural property and streamline the application process for future wind farm developments by eliminating the need for a special use permit.
Opponents of these projects were initially stunned by the blatant disregard of public input by county board members on these zoning matters. Lawsuits have subsequently been filed, challenging the special use permits of each planned wind farm, and arguing the validity of a petition that may have changed the outcome of the county board decision to eliminate special use permits for wind farms.
In the end, the question of whether these legal actions would have been initiated if county board members had been more receptive to public input should be asked.
Considering the delay and ultimately the cost that Stephenson County will pay to pursue its goal of wind farm development, the answer offers a lesson for future projects. Perhaps at least listening to an opposing view isn’t such a bad idea.
15 October 2007
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