September 17, 2010

Village extends moratorium on wind turbines

By JOHN ROSZKOWSKI, Libertyville Review, 16 September 2010

Wind power in Libertyville has been dealt another blow as the village has extended a moratorium on new wind turbines in the village.

The Village Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a 180-day extension of a moratorium relating to the construction, installation and operation of wind turbines in the village. Village officials say the extension of the moratorium will give them more time to consider ordinance changes relating to wind energy facilities in the village.

The moratorium was originally enacted about a year ago after a group of residents filed a lawsuit against Aldridge Electric and the village of Libertyville regarding a 120-foot wind turbine that was installed at Aldridge’s facility on Rockland Road.

Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler said the village board felt it was appropriate to extend the moratorium for another six months because Lake County is currently drafting a model ordinance which establishes standards for the siting and operation of wind energy facilities.

The county is currently reviewing proposed amendments to its unified development ordinance regarding wind energy. The proposed county ordinance sets standards for the permitting and operation of wind energy facilities including height and setback requirements, as well as regulations to reduce impacts on adjacent property owners such as noise and shadow flicker caused from the spinning blades. The county’s proposed ordinance may be considered by the full County Board in October.
‘Everybody favors’

Weppler serves on the Lake County Regional Plan Commission which is helping draft the county’s proposed regulations. He believes the county’s ordinance will be used as a model by Libertyville and other communities in developing their own regulations relating to wind energy.

“I think everybody favors renewable energy sources,” said Weppler. “We just want to make sure that when we allow them that they don’t negatively impact neighbors.”

Last year, a group of residents calling itself Citizens for the Protection of Libertyville filed a lawsuit regarding Aldridge Electric’s 120-foot wind turbine in Libertyville. The neighbors complained about noise from the turbine and other issues.

A judge has issued a preliminary injunction allowing the turbine to operate only between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, pending final resolution of the court case. A trial is tentatively scheduled later this year to determine the ultimate fate of the Aldridge turbine.

Ken Aldridge, owner and CEO of Aldridge Electric, said while the village’s moratorium will not directly affect his turbine, he believes it will deter other wind turbines from being built in Libertyville. He called the village’s decision to extend the moratorium “unfortunate.”

“I think it’s terrible because other people want to put in wind turbines,” he said. “I think they’re kind of putting their head in the sand because they don’t want to deal with it. I think they already have an ordinance in effect and I don’t know why they feel they need to change it.”

Dave Gates, one of the plaintiffs to lawsuit against Aldridge Electric and Libertyville, said he is pleased the village has decided to extend the moratorium to give more time to establish better standards for the operation of wind turbines to reduce impacts on neighbors. He said the reason the lawsuit was filed in the first place is because the village had outdated standards for regulating industrial turbines in residential areas.

“I think they want to do the right thing now and set standards for the operation of industrial turbines,” he said. “It makes sense for them to wait until the county officially decides what it’s going to do.”

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