FRANKLIN GROVE – When the Franklin Grove Village Board met for a special meeting and public hearing at the Atlasta Park Shelter to solicit public input on a plan to adopt an ordinance prohibiting industrial wind electricity-generating turbines within its zoning jurisdiction and within an additional 1.5 mile radius of that jurisdiction as allowed by Illinois Statutes, approximately 40 town residents and those from the surrounding community turned out to hear and be heard.
Proponents and opponents of such a restriction were given an opportunity to speak to the issues involved. Sixteen of those attending chose to let their voices be heard. Fourteen spoke in favor of the proposed ban on industrial electricity-generating turbines with wind towers within the designated area. Two others stated that they were neither for or against, but they had concerns that the board should consider.
Bob Colwell, president of the Ashton-Franklin Center School Board, sought to dispel some of the confusion over the financial impact of the property tax revenues that accrue to the school district as a result of increased property tax equalized assessed valuation.
Lonnie Joe Warrenfeltz, a local farmer, stated that he saw any attempt to restrict the use of property as a violation of land owner rights. Mayor Robert Logan, moderator for the public hearing, clarified that the 1.5 mile radius was a long standing right given to municipal governments, and was not a recent attempt to curtail the development of wind energy turbines. A later spokesperson countered Warrenfeltz’s land rights concern stating that it was not only the host farmer’s rights that needed to be considered, but those of residents in the immediate vicinity.
The citizens who spoke in favor of the ban cited a number of concerns including the documented ill health effects caused by the wind turbines including the noise factors and the flicker effects. The necessary development restrictions affecting nearly all other types of development in close proximity to the towers was also discussed.
Most spoke only the negative affects of allowing this development within the village jurisdiction and the additional 1.5 mile radius without attempting to address the viability of wind energy as a renewable energy source.
Persons asked the board to adopt the 1.5 mile restrictions citing the destruction of the pristine beauty of the area, loss of property tax value and health reasons as their points of objection. Board member David Atkinson asked if anyone in the audience had positive statements about locating the wind towers within the 1.5 mile radius and was answered with silence.
Logan provided five foundational guides the board will consider concerning action on the proposal to ban the towers within their area of influence. These will be the guiding principles when the village board meets on September to consider action on the ban: 1. To promote and protect the public health and safety interests of the community. 2. Be consistent with the area-development plan established by the 2007 Comprehensive Plan, focusing on residential development and strategically located commercial and industrial development. 3. Protect the inventory of natural heritage sites surrounding the Village of Franklin Grove, identified in our plan as contributing to the intrinsic value of the community and to its future development. 4. Retain for the people of Franklin Grove and the surrounding community, the right to determine their own approved orderly development. 5. Support the development of safe, reliable, financially-viable, and environmentally-friendly, renewable energy sources that contribute to the overall goals of our community.
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