November 2, 2007

Residents against transmission lines

The fate of Marion Township has all but been sealed, but 25 residents drove to Dixon Thursday night to implore county officials to consider an ordinance restricting the placement of high-voltage power lines in Lee County.

Big Sky Wind has spent the last several years hammering out plans and securing building permits for the construction of a wind farm in southern Lee County, and the final bit of planning dealt with the sensitive issue of how to get the power to Dixon.

Doug Kreiser, of rural Amboy, said he’s afraid that a culmination of county activity has resulted in a diminished quality of life and may result in shrinking property values.

Residents in central Lee County feel hamstrung by a series of board decisions that have shoved contentious projects into their neighborhoods.

Within a three-mile radius of Kreiser’s home on state Route 26, there’s a landfill and two hog farms, and now the county is poised to allow transmission lines along the highway corridor.

Kreiser said he does not want to “slam anybody,” in fact, he said representatives from Big Sky Wind have been very accommodating to the people in Marion Township.

Zoning Director Chris Henkel said landowners at the other end of the spectrum have been phoning his office to ask how to contact Big Sky because there is significant money to be made by allowing the wind farm operators to string a few wires through their cornfields.

Unfortunately for the 25 who showed up at Thursday night’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, there was little the board could do about either the transmission lines or the hog farms.

“We can try to make it difficult for them … but the state says we have no power over them,” said planning director Bill O’Keefe, who was present at the meeting.

Kreiser realizes there’s little chance of stopping the current project. He’s more interested in drumming up support for a county-wide policy that would restrict the proximity of new transmission lines to existing houses.

“I think you’ll be seeing a lot of me at the next few meetings to see if something can be done,” Kreiser said.

That was a proposition the five-member panel said they would consider recommending, though any final decision must come from the full board.

By Sam Smith
SVN Reporter

2 November 2007

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