The Boone County Board is considering a zoning ordinance that would permit wind turbines as close as 1,000 feet of adjacent property.
That is a far cry from the current setback of 2,000 feet, which after numerous meetings of the Zoning Board of Appeals, three Boone County Board meetings and two years of litigation in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court, was deemed reasonable given the limitations to aviation, crop dusting and quality of life of adjacent property owners.
If you pay taxes to Boone County, then you paid the cost of that litigation.
You will also pay the cost of litigation if the proposed zoning ordinance is approved by the County Board next month because County Board Chairwoman Cathy Ward recently acknowledged in this paper that a primary goal of this year would be to bring a wind project to Boone County.
Contrary to what the Planning Department told the County Board, a setback of 2,000 feet would not regulate the wind business out of Boone County; though, I would like to see that and you will too if you read the next paragraph. Rather, it would promote better industry relations with adjacent property owners and encourage more participation in projects if they were considered sound. Property owners adjacent to and within 2,000 feet of a wind project could consent to being within 2,000 feet and, thus, have the ability to negotiate their terms of participation so that their interests are adequately protected. This would have the effect of consolidating the areas where there are wind turbines so that nonparticipating property is not interspersed between wind turbines. When we were fighting the wind project, we were never consulted with, and the concerns that we were able to address to the Zoning Board of Appeals resulted in no changes by the developer.
An enterprise can be a good neighbor when it listens to its neighbors and makes adjustments accordingly. That is what a zoning ordinance should encourage, and no doubt does encourage for other industry. But why are wind projects any different?
I respect that this is a trying time. But speakers at a recent special meeting of the Boone County Board pointed out that 98 percent of our electricity is generated from nuclear, coal and other conventional power plants. The price of oil has nothing to do with the price of our electricity. Illinois has readily available coal deposits. There is no reason that our electric rates should continue to rise, but they will because our state requires that 21 percent of our electricity be generated from wind. That is an artificial limitation of electricity that will continue to inflate our electric rates. The solution to this problem is not more wind projects when, in an attempt to ensure the viability of those wind projects, the state limits the overall production of electricity! Wind projects also will not create permanent jobs for residents of Boone County since company technicians travel to and from wind projects in multiple counties and states performing services only as needed.
You must contact members of the Planning, Zoning and Building Committee before they meet July 2. You can find contact information on the County Board page at: www.boonecountyil.org/. I also invite you to attend that meeting at 6 p.m. in the Boone County Courthouse so that you may address the committee. Tell them that you want at least a 2,000-foot setback from wind projects so that the right of all residents to enjoy their property is protected.
Tell them that the Zoning Board of Appeals of Magnolia Township in neighboring Rock County, Wis., approved an ordinance that requires a half-mile setback.
Tell them that 2,000 feet is a necessary starting point.
By Aaron M. Funfsinn
Aaron M. Funfsinn is spokesman for the Boone County Alliance Against Intrusive Energy.
28 June 2008
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