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Wind turbine request blows past Hobart BZA and on to City Council

HOBART | A local farmer is a step closer to having two wind turbines on his property.

The Board of Zoning Appeals on Thursday night gave farmer Louis Mikolics a favorable recommendation on his plan, which next will go to the City Council.

The proposed site for two 172-foot-tall wind turbines would be at his farm, 6716 Colorado St.

The board previously had deferred the request by Mikolics, who has been represented at meetings by Rob Hefner of AB Wind Power.

The request last month for the deferral was made by City Planner A.J. Bytnar and Assistant City Engineer Jake Dammarell.

Both staff members had said they wanted to work out all details on the request – the first of its kind in Hobart – before presentation to the City Council.

Bytnar said he and Dammarell sat down together and worked out developmental standards based in part on the Lake County Plan Commission ordinance. Those standards include height and decibel specifications.

Although the BZA had a public hearing in October, residents again were asked for their comments. Deborah Bolek was the only resident to speak. She and her husband live north of Mikolics’ farm.

Bolek said her concerns are the health and safety of her family and whether the turbines will affect property value.

“I haven’t seen any studies on the affect on property value …” Bolek said.

Hefner, who fielded questions last month, said he believed he had already addressed Bolek’s issues. Studies indicate property values don’t decline near wind turbines, Hefner said.

He said the turbines, which harness wind power for electricity, would feature a lattice-tower design and be spaced about 700 feet apart.

Sound from the turbines is 43 decibels, similar to noise heard within most households, he said.

Hefner and Mikolics said if the City Council approves they’d like to have the turbines in place by spring.