MORRISON – Some are hoping for big changes to Whiteside County’s rules for wind farms. But a top official says that’s probably not going to happen.
County officials are reviewing the existing ordinance. Opponents of wind farms say industrial turbines create noise, cause shadow flicker and ruin scenery.
Earlier this month, the county Public Works Committee voted unanimously to keep the county’s required distance between homes and wind turbines at 1,400 feet, which is the same rule in Lee County.
The greatest such requirement in Illinois is 1,500 feet, officials say.
“If you go much farther than 1,400 feet, it would put wind farms dead in the water,” said County Board Vice Chairman Bill McGinn, who also heads the public works panel.
Larger distances effectively would keep out wind farms, he said.
In the spring, the county announced that Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Energy was interested in setting up wind turbines near Deer Grove, population 48. Since then, the village’s mayor, Al Thompson, has called for more regulation of turbines.
He has cited noise as one of his concerns.
But McGinn said he didn’t consider sound a problem with turbines.
“Trucks go through Deer Grove all the time, especially since there’s been the Walmart Distribution Center. Those trucks make more noise than wind towers,” he said.
McGinn said the county’s current ordinance requires special-use permits, which allow the county to tailor the conditions for each wind farm.
Overall, he said, residents shouldn’t expect any major changes to the ordinance.
The county is basing its review of the ordinance on proposals by Thompson, who wants a greater distance between homes and turbines.
Thompson said he doesn’t want to say much about the review. But he said he can see the “handwriting on the wall.”
“I’m waiting to let the cards play out and go from there. I’m being a nice guy so far,” he said.
Mainstream plans 175 to 290 turbines for Whiteside, Bureau and Lee counties, only a small fraction of which would be in Whiteside, the company says. It could turn in an application for a permit as early as fall.
In response to news of the planned wind farm, Deer Grove’s board of trustees unanimously voted to regulate turbines within 1.5 miles of the village limits. Attorneys have different views on whether that requirement can be enforced, Thompson said.
Whiteside County doesn’t yet have any wind farms.
The Public Works Committee’s agenda for its meeting on Tuesday includes an item on wind turbine regulations.
The Whiteside County Board’s Public Works Committee meets at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Whiteside County Highway Department, 18819 Lincoln Road (U.S. Route 30) in Morrison.
The committee’s agenda includes an item on wind turbine regulations.
For an agenda for this meeting, minutes from past meetings or more information, go to www.whiteside.org or call 815-772-5100.
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