The Iroquois County Board Planning and Zoning Committee was given some advice Friday morning.
At its meeting Chuck Knochel of Kentland, Ind., said he’s worked with wind farm companies and he also has towers six miles from his house.
He said in 2009 he went to work for a company from Goodland, Ind.
He said locals should watch out for a change in soil productivities and drainage.
The amount of top soil taken from a site would fill a school bus, he said, calling the companies who take advantage of taking away such fertile soil “rape and runners”. The practice is similar to what the logging business does, he said.
“Anytime there is big money involved we should do our due diligence,” said Knochel. “You need to go into this with your eyes open. You need someone to speak for the farmers.”
Committee member Donna Crow said county board members as well as the public needs to listen to those from areas which have had wind farms in their area for a few years. “You can see the problems after the development,” she said.
Last month, road agreements were signed by E.ON representatives and the county and township road commissioners.
“Things have already changed,” said committeeman Adam Zumwalt. He said White Construction, the contractor in charge of the project, has already pressured Sheldon’s road commissioner into changes.
“They said they’d build a slab of road. Now they’re saying it’ll cost too much,” said Zumwalt.
Knochel said the county’s, township’s and farmer’s representatives need to be direct with the wind farm companies and with the contractors building the farms.
Committee member Dale Schultz said often times locals are intimidated by big companies.
Part of the problem, he said, is no one is allowed to see the contracts between company and the farmer whose land is leased for the tower.
But, he said, by listening to the problems other counties are having with wind farms, Iroquois County could take steps to correct the problem before it starts.
“We need to strengthen our ordinances,” said Troy Krumwiede, committeeman. “Our ordinance was made by a wind farm company.”
He said the way things are there is no way to “police” contractors during construction. “This is a business,” he said.
Zoning Administrator Gloria Schleef said there have been at least two other wind farm developers in contact with the zoning office. She said there was also one person from Invenergy LLC who cited the Freedom of Information Act and wanted 28 pages of E.ON documents.
Plus, she said, E.ON will appear at a future zoning meeting to ask for 20 towers in the Buckley/Loda area. She said this would be part of a farm with the majority of towers in Ford County.
The committee members agreed they would continue to work on revising the wind energy ordinances at future meetings.
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