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Concern over the potential of large wind turbines up to 400 feet tall is causing some Lake County Board members to rethink the county’s proposed new wind ordinance.
County Board members heard a presentation from senior planner David Husemoller regarding the county’s proposed wind ordinance at a committee of the whole meeting last week at the Central Permit Facility in Libertyville.
The proposed ordinance sets standards for the siting of small and large wind towers in unincorporated areas of the county. It also establishes regulations to mitigate potential negative impacts of wind turbines on surrounding property owners, such as noise and shadow flicker, as well as impacts on wildlife. The ordinance was developed after several months of meetings before the Lake County Regional Planning Commission, public hearings and input from county officials and residents.
Some County Board members voiced concern about the height standards in the ordinance for large wind facilities. The ordinance defines large wind as 175 feet of higher, up to a maximum of 400 feet. Small wind energy turbines would be less than 175 feet.
Linda Pedersen, R-1st, of Antioch, said she is not opposed to wind energy but does not believe large wind facilities up to 400 feet tall are appropriate given the county’s population size and the lack of large tracts of undeveloped land.
“I just cannot fathom having large wind turbines in Lake County,” she said.
Bonnie Thomson Carter, R-5th, of Ingleside, suggested creating separate ordinances for small wind and large wind energy facilities. She said Lake County is home to many different species of wildlife, including migratory birds, which could be negatively impacted by large wind turbines.
“We do have a very special and unique county, very different than any other county in the state of Illinois,” she said.
Several residents attended the meeting to voice their concerns about a proposed wind energy farm in northern Lake County near Old Mill Creek and Antioch. The proposed wind farm would have 10 large wind turbines that would generate commercial power.
Terry Ramsdale, a resident of unincorporated Antioch who lives near the proposed wind farm, expressed concern about the sound of the large wind turbines for neighboring homeowners and the potential that the wind farm could be decommissioned at some point in the future if it does not generate enough power.
“I see all the risks being local and all the benefits being regional,” she said.
Some County Board members, however, argued that large wind energy facilities should remain in the ordinance, subject to setback and other regulations to protect neighbors.
Melinda Bush, D-6th, of Grayslake, said she is not in favor of removing large wind energy from the ordinance, pointing to the positive benefits of developing new green energy sources.
“I’m not opposed to large wind,” she said. “I think it’s responsible for all of us to be conscious about the environment.”
Pat Carey, D-11th, of Grayslake, said she did not want see the ordinance become so restrictive as to prevent wind energy from being developed in the county.
“We cannot protect against absolutely everything,” she said. “I’d ask us not to hold this to such a high standard that we preclude it.”
The board is expected to revisit the issue at the Feb. 8 regular board meeting, at which time the board could make a final decision regarding the ordinance.
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