A Lee County group is pushing for a new rule requiring that wind turbines be at least 1.5 miles away from houses. But a company planning a wind farm for Lee, Bureau and Whiteside counties says such a distance would effectively ban turbines.
On Thursday, the attorney for the Informed Farmers Coalition, a grass-roots group in Lee County, is slated to present a proposed wind farm ordinance to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The board is reviewing the county’s current ordinance and is expected to make recommendations for changes to the full County Board. That process could last several months.
Larry Gerdes, a founder of the coalition, said the 1.5-mile setback is important for protecting residents’
health and safety. The distance would be far higher than the current setback of 1,400 feet, which is a little more than a quarter-mile.
Gerdes said people near turbines cannot sleep because of noise and flashing lights, and cannot concentrate because of shadow flicker during parts of the day, he said.
Also, residents have reported that they can’t use their cell phones or get TV reception, which they blame on turbines, Gerdes said.
Keith Bolin of Ireland based Mainstream Renewable Energy, which is planning a wind farm in the tri-county area, said his company opposes a 1.5-mile setback.
“That wouldn’t be a wind ordinance. That would be a wind ban. You would just be sending the message that you don’t want wind development,” Bolin said.
Gerdes, however, said the goal of an ordinance shouldn’t be the protection of the wind industry. “What obligation do we have to make sure they [wind energy companies] stay in business?” he said. “We don’t have that obligation.”
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