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Wind-farms foe wants discussion of concerns in Ford County

PAXTON – Ann Ihrke, a Ford County resident who plans to run for election to the county board next year, asked the board Monday night why it has refused to address concerns she raised this summer about wind farms.

Ihrke and other members of Energize Illinois, a Ford County-based group protesting the wind-energy industry, made a presentation to the board in July about their desire to see the board discuss adopting stricter regulations for wind farms.

But in the past four months, the board has not had any discussion on the matter at its monthly meetings.

“At (July’s) presentation, all board members were given a notebook with approximately 300 pages outlining concerns over the erection of wind turbines in this county,” Ihrke said. “Several concerns were voiced at this meeting, along with documentation and sources. Safety, health, reduction in property values and decommissioning were among those concerns.”

The issue of safety needs to be addressed by the board immediately, Ihrke said, by adopting deeper setbacks between wind turbines and homes. The county’s existing zoning ordinance for wind farms allows turbines to be built 1,000 feet from a home; but Ihrke pointed out that Vesta, a major manufacturer of wind turbines, states in its own manual that no person should be within 1,300 feet of a turbine for safety reasons.

Ihrke said families living within 1,300 feet of a turbine are “definitely at risk while inside and outside of their homes.”

Yet “not once” has the county board discussed at its monthly meeting the possibility of updating the zoning ordinance to address this safety concern, Ihrke said.

“The zoning and planning boards cannot act unless this board sends them recommendations,” Ihrke said. “When will you begin the process of updating the current (wind farm zoning) ordinance to reflect the safety of those living with this 1,300-foot safety radius?

“Every day there is more evidence that these turbines should be sited away from residences. … Every individual in our county needs protection through our ordinances.”

After hearing Ihrke’s comments, the board had no discussion about her request and made no indication it would in future meetings.