DIXON – A proposal to protect the property values of homes near wind turbines is gaining support.
Two of the five members of the Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals, which is reviewing the county’s wind energy ordinance, said at their meeting Thursday that they backed a home seller protection program for residents near turbines.
The discussion of the issue started with board Chairman Ron Conderman’s suggestion that the county not include such a program in its ordinance.
“Why add more burden to the county?” he asked.
Members Mike Pratt and Tom Fassler said they would like some version of the program, though.
“Ron, I disagree with you. I’m sorry,” Pratt said.
Two other members, Glen Bothe and Craig Buhrow, didn’t comment on the issue.
The board is basing its review on a proposed wind energy ordinance from Ogle County. That proposal calls for the home seller program to last 5 years after a wind project starts. Pratt pushed expanding that to 10 years.
Pratt wanted the program to affect homes within a mile of turbines, while Fassler suggested 1.5 miles.
The Ogle County proposal details a complex appraisal process, in which the homeowner and the wind energy company each choose an appraiser. In the end, if appraisers find that a home sold for less because it was near turbines, then the wind energy company would pay the difference.
County Assessor Wendy Ryerson has described the proposal as mostly workable, even though she said she hasn’t seen evidence that turbines cause property values to drop.
At Thursday’s meeting, Keith Bolin of Mainstream Renewable Power, which is planning a three-county wind farm, said he didn’t like the program because it would cause conflicts between wind farm companies and their neighbors.
Also, he said, any number of factors can cause a property value to drop, so it would be hard to attribute the decrease to a wind farm.
Franklin Grove Mayor Bob Logan said most wind companies were limited liability corporations. As such, he said, it was up to the county to limit residents’ liability. One way to do that was a home seller program, he said.
“Your obligation is not to help make wind companies get a profit,” he said.
Ryerson said she would bring some proposed language for the home seller protection program for the board’s next meeting on Nov. 17.
The board’s agenda for Thursday’s meeting included the issues of wind turbines’ noise, shadow flicker and the required distance between homes and wind turbines. But the board didn’t have time for those subjects.
The board has been meeting twice a month since the summer considering changes to the county’s ordinance. Its recommendations will be referred to the County Board, which has the final say.
The Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals meets at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 in the County Board meeting room, on the third floor of the Old County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St.
Go to www.countyoflee.org or call 815-288-3643 for more information.