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Act to protect landowners and residents

The Public Works Committee is “reviewing” Whiteside’s wind energy ordinance to decide whether it should be revised. From the beginning, it’s been clear that its members have no interest in making any changes to our outdated ordinance.

They want to leave most details to be determined during the special use permit process, yet voted impulsively to leave the setback between turbines and residences at 1,400 feet. Their justification? That’s what other counties have.

They don’t want to increase the setback for fear of discouraging wind development in Whiteside. Our neighboring counties are debating much larger setbacks to protect their residents, but this committee intends to leave ours as is.

I’ve presented the committee with documents addressing possible liabilities, environmental hazards and negative impact of low-frequency sound. Have they openly discussed those issues? No.

When asked whether they intend to discuss them, their response was, “They’re being reviewed.”

Unlike the board members, I’m not paid to attend these meetings. I attend because I want to see the interests of ALL Whiteside County residents represented. As a result, I have been accused of wanting turbines outlawed. Apparently, they haven’t been listening.

When I’ve addressed board members, I’ve urged them to weigh the risks associated with industrial wind turbines while developing an ordinance that balances property rights of those for and against wind turbines. If landowners can host them without negatively impacting people who live nearby, they should be allowed to do so.

However, if turbines would be sited where they may jeopardize human health or create inescapable nuisances, precautions must be taken to protect residents. If that is not done, it creates a possible liability for the county, which falls on all of us who pay taxes.

We deserve an ordinance that protects the property rights on BOTH sides of this issue.

Amanda Norris, Sterling