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EP to establish wind turbine regulations; Until drafting law, city has temporary building ban

EAST PEORIA – City officials recently realized no local laws specifically address the construction and use of power-generating windmills on homes and businesses, so they made plans Tuesday to create one.

Until they do, no one in East Peoria can install the device.

A resolution the City Council passed actually bans construction, placement and operation of wind generators until May 1, but the council is expected to act on a law crafted by the city to regulate them sooner than that.

It was several inquiries City Hall recently received from both home and business owners as to whether they needed permission to install the energy cost-cutting generators that prompted the moratorium on them, said Ty Livingston, city planning and development director.

The city may also consider erecting the windmill-type devices for its own buildings’ energy savings, said Council member Tim Jeffers. “This (industry) is developing pretty quickly.”

Wind-powered generators of various scales have been used for decades, but Livingston said before the council meeting that only since the recent jumps in electricity rates has his office received inquiries about installing them. He knows of no such generators in use in the city, he said.

City Administrator Tom Brimberry also told the council that recent state legislation expressly authorizes cities to regulate wind generators within corporate limits and up to 1 1/2 miles outside the city.

While Livingston said laws regarding excessive noise and the height and placement of towers could have applied to problem-causing wind generators, the new law will be crafted with the devices specifically in mind.

In other business, Mayor Dave Mingus said he expects the council to act perhaps within a month on the requests by local public school districts for city financial help, probably with sales tax revenue, on their planned multi-million dollar construction projects.

“It’s time for us to come off the bubble and decide what we’re going to do,” he said after East Peoria District 86 officials provided further details of their request at a council working session.

That district wants to renovate Central Junior High School and Armstrong School at a combined minimum cost of about $10 million but has only half of that amount. East Peoria Community High School District 309 hopes to, in effect, rebuild the high school at a total cost of $22 million.

On Tuesday, Robein District 85 officials told the council of plans to replace that grade school’s heating and air conditioning system and make other repairs totalling $100,000. The three districts had split about $800,000 in annual city sales tax revenue under a 30-month deal with the city that recently expired.

By Michael Smothers

Peoria Journal-Star

7 November 2007