FRANKLIN GROVE – Area residents have strong opinions on wind farms – some want them, others don’t.
But who has the majority view?
Franklin Grove will find the answer to that question Tuesday. The village is holding a nonbinding referendum – or a public opinion poll, as the mayor prefers to call it – on whether the village should ban industrial wind turbines.
The prohibition – if the village council goes along with it – would apply to the village itself and areas within 1.5 miles of its boundaries.
Voters in the village and those in the 1.5-mile area can take part in the referendum.
“I think there is quite a little excitement for the public opinion poll,” Mayor Bob Logan said. “It seems like everyone is aware of it.”
The mayor acknowledges that the referendum is not legally binding, “but ethically, we’re bound to it.”
Voters can cast their ballots from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Village Hall.
Logan is not shy about his position on whether to allow wind turbines in and around the village: He’s against them. In fact, he and others have been distributing fliers backing the ban.
The village has sent notices to voters in the area about the referendum, which includes voters in Franklin Grove Township and a few in Ashton and Bradford townships, Logan said.
“They are part of the community. If we’re going to affect their lives, they should have a say-so,” the mayor said.
John Nicholson, a Franklin Grove resident and vice chairman of the Lee County Board, said he’ll take part in the referendum. He favors banning the turbines near the village, saying they would limit its growth.
“There has to be a setback from the village,” Nicholson said. Logan agreed.
Many wind farm opponents say they are unsightly and noisy.
Referendums on wind issues are rare. An Internet search turned up only a few. In 2006, voters in Bristol, R.I., overwhelmingly approved wind energy in their community. But, in that same year, two-thirds of voters in Nantucket, Mass., rejected a proposed wind farm.
RES Americas, a Colorado-based subsidiary of British energy conglomerate RES Group, has spent the past couple of years planning a wind farm for the Franklin Grove and Ashton areas. It hasn’t yet submitted its application to the county.
In March, the Franklin Grove village board voted 4-3 to extend its moratorium on wind farm applications for 6 months. The mayor broke the tie.
Last year, the village of Ashton passed an ordinance requiring developers ask the village board for special permission to install industrial turbines within 1.5 miles of Ashton’s boundaries. It is allowed to do so under state law.
Franklin Grove will have a special election from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday at Village Hall, 105 E. South St., on whether it should ban industrial wind turbines in the village and 1.5 miles outside of its boundaries.
Call Village Hall, 815-456-2131, for more information.
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