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Panel wants deeper wind farm setbacks  

Credit:  By Jim Newton, Lake County News-Sun, newssun.suntimes.com 9 November 2010 ~~

A Lake County Board committee on Tuesday added larger setbacks to the proposed regulations for wind energy facilities.

The regulations, if approved by the full County Board next week, would be added to the county’s Unified Development Ordinance for unincorporated areas.

In a 6-1 vote Tuesday morning, the County Board’s Planning, Building and Zoning Committee adopted regulations that increase the setback distance for large wind energy towers from 150 percent of the height of the tower to 250 percent of the height of the tower. The setback is the minimum distance between the structure and neighboring property lines.

The increase came after the committee heard from scores of residents at recent meetings who aired concerns about potential impacts of wind energy facilities. Many of the concerns came from those living near the site of the proposed Sexton Wind Farm commercial project, which could involve the location of 10 large turbines on a 388-acre site on Russell Road, just west of the Tri-State Tollway.

Under state law, however, neighboring municipalities whose planning jurisdition extends to the potential Sexton sight could veto the project.

The county regulations are part of a countywide effort to draft rules to address issues such as aesthetics, noise and shadow flicker from wind energy projects.

The regulations were drafted by the Lake County Wind Energy Task Force, consisting of representatives for the county and 20 municipalities, and were the subject of more than 100 hours of public hearings by the county’s Regional Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.

Under the regulations approved Tuesday, the setbacks of 250 percent would be required for towers with heights ranging from 175 feet to the maximum of 400 feet.

The County Board is expected to discuss and vote on the recommended regulations next Tuesday.

Committee Chair Susan Gravenhorst of Lake Forest, who voted against the regulations, said she has reservations about larger wind facilities and also is not sure how to reconcile the concerns of residents with the interests of wind energy businesses.

“I’m not fully convinced wind energy turbines are what we want in Lake County,” she said.

Committee member Steve Carson of Grandwood Park said he is also not a proponent of the larger wind energy facilities in Lake County, but felt that the increased setback represented a compromise he could support.

In addition to the setbacks, the regulations include other limitations that are more stringent than state standards, including limits on decibel levels and shadow flicker from turbine blades.

Source:  By Jim Newton, Lake County News-Sun, newssun.suntimes.com 9 November 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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