PRINCETON – Bureau County Board members will be asked to revisit the question of a temporary moratorium on wind farm development at their meeting Thursday.
This comes following the board’s vote on March 8 against a temporary moratorium. At that meeting, members rejected the motion brought by Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Sondgeroth to establish a temporary moratorium on all new conditional use permit applications for wind farms. Board members questioned the process in which Sondgeroth brought the recommendation to the board, including the short notice.
The decision to take the issue back to the county board came at Monday’s meeting of the Zoning Committee. Zoning Officer Kris Donarski explained a moratorium would be a temporary timeout of accepting applications, while a reworded version of the county’s current ordinance on wind farms is being drafted. Donarski said a temporary moratorium would prevent the ordinance from being changed while an application is pending.
“They could do a study with one set of measurements, and while that’s going on, the standards are changed,” she said.
Zoning Committee member Joe Bassetti didn’t think the moratorium was necessary and said the zoning ordinance changes could be completed quickly.
However, Zoning Committee Chairman Marsha Lilley, who voted in favor of the moratorium on March 8, said everything could be done more easily if there was a temporary break. She disputed that rewording the ordinance would be a quick process.
Bassetti disagreed, and said if Donarski needed help with rewording the ordinance, the county should hire someone to help her.
“The ESDA/Zoning Committee is the one and only thing that brings in money in this county,” he said. “If she needs help to write this thing, tell her that we’ll go out and get the help she needs to get this all done.”
Lilley disagreed again and said a timeout would cut down the amount of work Donarski needed to do.
County board member Mike Maynard, who was in the audience, asked Donarski how long she thought it would take to reword the ordinance.
Donarski said some fixes are simple, while others are more complex. She estimated the process would take at least three months, and then another 60 days for hearings.
Lilley made a motion the moratorium question go back to the county board for consideration one more time.
“We’ve learned things, and things have changed,” she said.
The motion was approved on a 5-2 vote with Lilley and board members John Baracani, Laura Rose, Dale Anderson and Loretta Volker voting in favor, and Bassetti and Tom Dobrich voting against the motion.
“Let’s get down to business and get this done,” Rose said.
The committee also unanimously approved hiring a consultant to help Donarski and directed her to begin the process of finding a possible candidate. The consultant question is also on the county board’s agenda for Thursday.
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