The Bureau County Board has voted to seek fines against a rural Tiskilwa wind farm for not building its turbines in the correct places.
On July 8, the county board voted 13 to 5 to impose fines against Providence Heights wind farm for each of seven turbines which were built in violation of setback requirements. The maximum fine is up to $500 per week, per turbine, as determined by the courts.
Voting in favor of the motion were Dale Anderson, Joe Bassetti, Jim Donarski, Marshann Entwhistle, Deb Feeney, Marsha Lilley, Mark Pierson, Rob Pozzi, Steve Sondgeroth, Loretta Volker, Kristi Warren, Rick Wilkin and Marc Wilt.
Voting against the motion were Jim Lilley, Mike Maynard, Bob McCook, Jim Thompson and Marcus Throneburg.
Absent for the vote were Butch Moran, Pete Swanson, John Baracani, Bill Bennett, Tom Giordano, Lisa Mangrich, Mary Jane Marini and Joe Vasquez.
The board also voted unanimously, by voice vote, to require wind farm developers to hire a surveyor, at their own expense, to inspect foundations of turbines to make sure they are in the right sites, before the towers are put up.
Explaining the Providence Heights problem, Zoning Officer Kris Donarski said two of the turbines were too close to buildings, four were too close to property lines, and one had no signed agreement with a neighbor. The wind farm developers had requested variances from the zoning office, but have since withdrawn their request, having taken steps to remedy the problem, Donarski said.
For one of the turbines too close to a building, the developers have bought the property and will tear the building down. In the second turbine/building violation, the developers will remove a portion of the building to meet setback requirements.
For the property line violations, the developers have bought additional property. The developers are in negotiations with the neighbor in the seventh turbine violation, Donarski said.
The problem was discovered this spring when the developers came to her office for a final sign-off on the project, Donarski said.
Board member Dale Anderson said the developers should have told the county about the problem in February, rather than May.
The wind farm should be fined if it isn’t in compliance with the county zoning code, Steve Sondgeroth said.
On the other hand, Bob McCook said he didn’t know why the board would want to fine them or shut them down.
The developers did come and tell the county about the violations and has worked to correct them, Jim Lilley said.
Kris Donarski said it’s difficult to believe the developers of a multi-million wind farm could make this type of mistake.
“I don’t understand how these things can be built accidentally in the wrong place,” Donarski said.
By Donna Barker
15 July 2008
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