MORRISON – Deer Grove Mayor Al Thompson has a question he wants answered: If wind farms come in, who should residents complain to about problems?
The answer from Whiteside County officials on Tuesday: We don’t know.
Stuart Richter, the county’s planning and zoning administrator, said the county doesn’t have any wind farm applicants yet. It would determine the complaint procedure as part of a special-use permit for a wind farm, he said.
Thompson didn’t like that answer.
“You’re going to have to get this straightened out,” he said during the monthly meeting of the County Board’s Public Works Committee.
Thompson said Deer Grove residents and farmers have asked him the question because they want to know how to handle their possible complaints about noise, shadow flicker and poor TV reception.
Whiteside County doesn’t have any wind farms yet. Lee County, which has a number of them, doesn’t have a complaint procedure in its ordinances, but it is considering adding one.
This year, Lee County has received 11 complaints about poor TV reception, a problem blamed on a nearby wind farm. The wind energy company involved referred the complaints to the county and documented its efforts to address issues.
In Deer Grove, population 48, residents are concerned about proposed wind turbines. In the spring, the county announced that Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power was planning a wind farm in Whiteside, Lee and Bureau counties. In Whiteside, it would be near Deer Grove, south of Rock Falls.
In reaction to the news, the Deer Grove village board voted for a 1.5-mile setback for wind turbines around the village’s boundaries.
As he has before, Thompson asked the Public Works Committee whether the village has that kind of power. Some interpret state law differently.
Richter said the Whiteside County state’s attorney office has referred that issue to the state’s attorney general’s office. It has yet to receive an answer.
Richter said he interpreted the law to mean that the village had the authority, but he added, “I’m not a lawyer, thank God.”
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