Mark Wagner, a member of Lee County’s ad hoc committee for wind turbine regulations, warned he may leave the panel, saying it was biased for the wind industry.
Late last week, he followed through.
In his resignation letter, Wagner called the process of revising the county’s decade-old wind turbine ordinance “fundamentally wrong.” He objected to the rule that barred public comment.
The committee is made up of the five members of the Zoning Board of Appeals and two others besides Wagner – Alan Pfeifer, the developer and dean of Sauk Valley Community College’s new wind energy maintenance curriculum, and Keith Bolin, a Bureau County wind industry employee.
Wagner, a part-time resident of Franklin Grove, criticized the Zoning Board for objecting to considering complaints about turbines from neighboring county residents.
“Yet they allow a wind industry employee who resides in another county to sit on the ad hoc committee. This is hypocritical,” Wagner said in his letter.
Ron Conderman, chairman of the Zoning Board and the ad hoc committee, said Monday that he hadn’t heard about Wagner’s resignation. He declined to comment.
The county created the ad hoc panel in October, a month after it enacted a moratorium on new wind farms that expired last week. Some County Board members have pushed to extend the moratorium – an idea that the board’s chairman, Jim Seeberg, resists.
Many residents have complained about turbines, contending they are noisy, unsightly nuisances.
At a county meeting earlier this month, Wagner said he understood that some of the Zoning Board members had ties to the wind industry.
Over the weekend, Wagner said in an e-mail that he never “went down the path of using the fact that some of them (Zoning Board members) have entertained contracts with wind developers as an issue that I was planning to exploit.”
He said at meetings of Lee County Informed, a group pushing greater regulation of turbines, members talked about allegations that Zoning Board members had connections to the wind industry.
“I personally never investigated that topic,” Wagner said.
In an interview last week, Conderman said he was unaware that any Zoning Board members had connections to the wind industry.
Wagner said he was opposed to putting the five Zoning Board members on the committee because they had approved wind farms before, showing they favored turbines.
Wagner hasn’t been without support on the committee. Tom Fassler, also a Zoning Board member, has expressed concerns for neighbors of turbines.
The committee is supposed to make recommendations on changes to the wind farm ordinance to the Zoning Board, but under the rules, the committee doesn’t vote on issues. Rather, the Zoning Board will review the committee’s minutes, officials say.
The committee will meet again Wednesday. Wagner said he planned to sit with the audience.
Steve Robery, another wind industry opponent, will replace him, Wagner said. Conderman wouldn’t confirm that.
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