- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

County delays action on wind energy rules

Put a hold on the wind turbines.

The Lake County Board on Tuesday delayed a vote on proposed wind energy regulations that have been the subject of months of public hearings and meetings.

The board’s Planning, Building and Zoning Committee had recently increased the setbacks for large wind facilities in the proposal and sent the regulations forward with a recommendation for approval by the full board.

A number of outstanding questions regarding the proposed regulations by board members who aren’t on the committee led to a motion to delay the vote to the board’s February meeting, with a special committee-of-the-whole meeting on the issue to be scheduled before that time.

The delay could affect the application approval process from some projects, including the proposed Sexton Wind Farm commercial project, which calls for the location of 10 large turbines on a 388-acre site on Russell Road, west of Interstate 94. Some school districts have also contacted the county and indicated they are looking into wind turbines as a way of generating income.

The proposed regulations would be added to the county’s Unified Development Ordinance for unincorporated areas, and 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 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.

Large crowds attended public hearings and committee meetings on the issue, with many residents expressing concerns about the impact of large wind energy facilities on nearby homes and neighborhoods.

Under the modifications approved by the Planning, Building and Zoning Committee, setbacks of 250 percent of the height of the tower would be required for towers with heights ranging from 175 feet to the maximum of 400 feet.

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