Plan commissioners and village staff are still mulling over the details of Libertyville’s wind turbine ordinance as a grassroots organization continues to ask for stricter regulations.
Dave Gates, a member of the group Citizens for the Protection of Libertyville has said the group wants to ban wind turbines from the village. Gates is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Aldridge Electric Company, 844 East Rockland Road. He is one of several residents who live between 200 and 700 feet from Aldridge’s 150-foot-tall wind turbine.
After a couple of hours of discussing wind turbines at a Monday meeting with plan commissioners, Gates seemed pleased with the progress made as part of his group’s three-year fight against the Aldridge wind turbine.
“I think the folks are doing a heck of a good job,” he said. “They’re really taking their time. They’re working really hard on making it right.”
Mostly, he’s glad commissioners have been discussing lowering the sound level to a proposed maximum decibel level of 40 decibels, even though he would prefer the level to be lowered to 35 decibels.
“It went back to 40 decibels-and living with that is almost reasonable. We sure would prefer 35. The machines can’t run at that sound level,” he said.
His organization is also looking for changes to the village’s ordinance on wind turbines that would prevent them from being built near homes.
“One of the things we keep bringing up is when you put up one of these monsters in people’s back yards, it affects their property value. When you put a 150-foot turbine next to my house people don’t want to by my house. That’s the only frustrating area,” he said.
However, residents and business owners would have to apply to the village for a special use permit to install a wind turbine, under a proposed change to the village’s ordinance.
The village delayed authorizing wind turbines in March while the Lake County Wind Energy Task Force and Lake County Regional Planning Commission work on a wind energy model ordinance.
Libertyville used a draft of the county’s model ordinance to come up with its wording, said John Spoden, director of community development. The village’s proposal also covers small wind turbines.
“Those also should be special use permits,” Spoden said. “That would be something not allowed by right. The overall height of any of these units, we’re proposing it couldn’t be any taller than the maximum height in that district. If somebody had a one-story house, they could put one up to about five feet on their roof. It has to meet requirements, such as it can’t make sun glints, it cannot have any lighting, advertising and it cannot create electromagnetic interference. It also could not be operated between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.”
The discussion of the wind turbine ordinance has been continued to the June plan commission meeting. If the plan commission approves the proposed changes to the ordinance, the village board would have the final say on the commissioners’ recommendation.
“The concern we have still is what happens when this goes to the village board,” Gates said. “All of this work and discussion could be for naught.”
In the meantime, the lawsuit between Citizens for the Protection of Libertyville and Aldridge is scheduled to continue to a July hearing.
The Citizens group has filed a motion for a summary judgment, which is basically asking Judge Mitchell L. Hoffman to rule that the village’s current wind turbine ordinance was not written properly and that Aldridge should reapply to continue to run its turbine and to build two more turbines in the village.
Three years of fighting against the turbines and an “incredibly expensive” lawsuit hasn’t weakened the group’s stance, Gates said.
“We’re not going away,” he said.
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