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Official backs bigger wind farm setback rule  

Credit:  BY DAVID GIULIANI, www.saukvalley.com 5 August 2011 ~~

DIXON – At least one member of a Lee County committee is pushing for a longer required distance between wind turbines and homes.

The distance is now 1,400 feet – a little more than a quarter-mile. It’s the same in Whiteside County.

Many wind farm opponents say that it should be much longer. Some are suggesting it be as far as 1.25 miles away from property lines.

The Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals touched on the issue Thursday. But Chairman Ron Conderman decided to delay a major discussion on setbacks until the end of its review of the county’s wind rules. That could be more than a month away.

Tom Fassler, a board member, said he liked the idea of having wind energy companies negotiate with landowners within the setback distance. Companies would have to pay neighbors for the right to build industrial turbines nearby, he said.

He didn’t indicate what kind of a setback he wanted, only saying it should be longer.

Another member, Mike Pratt, said he initially liked the idea of wind energy companies negotiating with nearby landowners. But he said he later thought that the county may be sued because it was taking away the rights of people who wanted turbines on their properties.

Fassler countered that neighbors have just as much of a right to their property as do those who want turbines.

Attorney Richard Porter, who is representing an anti-wind farm landowner, said the county shouldn’t fear lawsuits over setbacks.

“I think you’re worrying about something that won’t occur,” he said.

Conderman didn’t say how he stands on the setback issue; he has favored wind energy companies on other issues. Two other members, Glen Bothe and Craig Buhrow, said nothing during the meeting.

The setback distance is typically the key issue in debates over wind farms. Many residents say they don’t want turbines near their homes, arguing that they are noisy, cause shadow flicker and ruin scenery.

The zoning board has been meeting every couple of weeks. At Thursday’s meeting, Susie Miller, an Ashton resident, suggested the board get experts from both sides of the issue. She noted that industry representatives speak often during meetings.

“You’re going to them,” she told the board.

Conderman said the board’s members and Miller were in a similar situation: They weren’t experts.

He said the industry is “what we have to work with. They’re here.”

The board will send its recommendations for changes to the county’s current wind ordinance to the full County Board.

Source:  BY DAVID GIULIANI, www.saukvalley.com 5 August 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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