Stephenson County leaders review the state of the county at their board meeting tonight.
One of the issues taking center stage is their plan to spur growth and revenue by approving the construction of more wind turbines.
That decision comes with controversy. “The County Board in our opinion has done everything to exclude the opinions of its constituents,” says Mike King. “Instead, it’s made it easier and easier for wind farm companies to build in this county.”
The board approved the creation of 30 more wind turbines in the small town of Lena – bringing the total number to 67, rather than the initial 37. This increase raises the amount of local tax revenue generated from the turbines to more than $14 million.
“The Lena School District has a chance of getting $250,000 to $300,000 a year in the near future,” says Stephenson County’s Director of Planing and Zoning, Terry Groves.
But the residents who will be directly affected by the turbines on their property want the board to consider their quality of life.
“I certainly don’t fault them for not refusing more revenue, but at the same time there’s going to be a reduction in my property value,” King describes. “They should at least compensate the people who have wind farms on their land by reducing property taxes. We should get some relief since the wind farms will be making so much money for the county.”
Groves says the construction of the turbines will create hundreds of jobs for local contractors. As for the impact on farmland, he points out that the wind farm companies will pave many of the gravel roads in the area, making it easier for farmers to do their job.
The wind turbines are expected to be up and running by the end of the year.
Reported by: Katie Crowther
9 April 2008
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