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Lawyer speaks for opposition to Bureau County wind farm

PRINCETON – The Bureau County Zoning Board of Appeals hearing for the extension of conditional use permits to Walnut Ridge Wind LLC reconvened Thursday.
Opponents to the northern Bureau County wind farm raised their objections Thursday after Walnut Ridge representatives presented their request and arguments Feb. 28.
The wind farm’s 2008 permits for 150 turbines and other facilities only last three years and will soon expire. No construction has taken place since their issue, but developers claim they have invested $3.2 million and will complete the project.
Rick Porter, attorney for Friesland Farms, Larry Gerdes and other objectors to the Walnut Ridge project, urged county officials to let the permits lapse, returning the zoning to agricultural three years from the permits’ dates of issue.
“You should allow your ordinances to operate the way they’re intended and not allow an extension here,” Porter said.
The county needs to amend its outdated zoning ordinances and conditional use permit applications to account for new information about wind farms’ potential negative impact on residents’ health, property values and enjoyment of their land, he said.
Bureau County’s current ordinances and applications don’t include any provisions requiring a noise study, shadow flicker study, property value impact study or protection plan, according to Porter, and the decommissioning plans include no requirement to update. These and other conditions, such as greater setbacks from property lines, would protect the citizens and shouldn’t discourage serious wind farm developers, according to Porter.
“If they’re serious, they will re-file their applications and they will build their project. If they’re not, quit wasting your time with them,” Porter said.
About six DeKalb and Bureau county residents also spoke against allowing the permit extensions.