Comparing the noise of a nearby 120-foot wind turbine to the sound of a semitruck’s brakes, neighbors are asking a Lake County judge to decide at a Thursday hearing whether Libertyville officials acted lawfully in issuing a permit to build the turbine.
The Village of Libertyville has spent more than $140,000 in the two-year legal battle, contending that officials followed the law in granting the permit.
Some residents have said the sound and shadow flicker of the turbine drive them mad.
“There are three hugely loud ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!'” said Laurie Renz, describing the sound the turbine makes as it’s brought to a halt. Her home abuts the turbine at 844 E. Rockland Road and she is a member of Citizens for Protection of Libertyville, a group that sued the village and the turbine’s owner, Aldridge Electric, after the turbine was installed in 2009.
“Basically, we’re asking the judge to decide if the special use permit was lawful,” Renz said.
The group has filed a motion for a summary judgment, asking Judge Mitchell L. Hoffman to rule that the village’s current wind turbine ordinance was not written properly and that Aldridge Electric should reapply for a special use permit to continue to run its turbine.
After residents complained, the company was restricted to operating the turbine weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aldridge Electric CEO Ken Aldridge said the turbine generates enough energy to power five homes a day while running.
He plans to continue to fight to keep the turbine to promote renewable energy.
“I don’t intend to take it down,” he said.
The lawsuit alleges the village neither notified residents nor had a public hearing between a late 2008 plan commission meeting and a Village Board meeting in early 2009, where trustees unanimously approved Aldridge’s plan to build the turbine.
During that time, Aldridge asked village trustees for permission to construct the wind turbine closer to homes than where the turbine was previously approved to be built.
The request was posted on a board meeting agenda and the public was given the opportunity to comment on the proposed location for the turbine at the January meeting, village attorney David Pardys wrote in an email.
In the meantime, the citizen group has been working with village planners and the plan commission to refine the village’s wind energy ordinance.
“Given the moratorium and the number of hearings, this is a much better crafted ordinance to allow property rights while protecting the rights of residents of the community,” said Plan Commission Chairman Mark Moore. “I think we’re making it really comprehensive.”
Commissioners are set to continue the discussion on changes to the village’s wind energy ordinance at the July plan commission meeting.
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