BELVIDERE – Wind turbines and ultralight aircraft took center stage again Wednesday as Boone County moved one step closer to approving new zoning laws.
Residents focused on proposed distances between turbines and surrounding property, as well as new rules that would allow single-engine planes to take off from county land.
The Planning, Zoning, and Building Committee meeting Wednesday is likely the last stop before the full board’s vote in what has been a marathon of meetings designed at completely overhauling the current code.
“Our staff has worked on this for five years; we’ve had hearings on it for one year,” Boone County Board Chairwoman Cathy Ward said. “We’ve had plenty of input on all of these topics. I think it’s time to vote on it.”
The new code went before the full board last month, only to be sent to a special board meeting and later back to the committee level. Final approval is possible July 9.
The committee opted to stick with proposed wind turbine distances of 1,000 feet from homes and 1.1 times the height of the tower from property lines.
Distance from homes
Several residents had called for setbacks of at least 2,000 feet from homes, fearing that wind farms could lower property values, be noisy and make it difficult for farmers to spray crops, among other things.
“All of the people that have their farms up there would suffer from this,” Beth Funfsinn told the committee while asking for greater setbacks from surrounding properties.
Proponents feared 2,000 feet would make wind energy an impossibility in Boone County because, they say, it would leave few options for turbine locations.
“For us to try to legislate to eliminate is absolutely wrong,” said Fred Genrich, committee vice chairman and board member.
Genrich favored addressing each case individually before issuing special-use permits, but his proposal to remove setback distances from the code was defeated 4-1.
The committee stuck with rules that would allow ultralights to take off from rural areas, so long as pilots aren’t storing more than five of the one-seat recreational planes on their property.
Pilots were ordered by a judge to stop flying off county farmland last year because it violated zoning laws.
Neighbors raised concerns about the noise levels and behavior of some nearby pilots, who they said were flying dangerously.
Laura Kiedaisch, who had stake in both ultralight and wind issues, said pilots have been good neighbors to her.
“My experience with the ultralights is that they don’t interfere with people’s daily living. The height at which they’re flying generates no more noise than a single-engine crop plane,” Kiedaisch said.
Kiedaisch also favored bringing wind power to Boone and hopes to set up a residential tower on her property in northern Boone County.
By Kevin Haas
2 July 2008
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