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Settlement limits Libertyville wind turbine’s hours of operation

A settlement has been reached in the lawsuit over Aldridge Electric’s wind turbine in Libertyville.

A group of neighbors calling itself Citizens for Protection of Libertyville filed the lawsuit against Libertyville and Aldridge Electric in 2009 over Aldridge’s 120-foot tall wind turbine at 844 E. Rockland Road.

Under the proposed settlement agreement, Aldridge has agreed to limit the hours of operation of the wind turbine from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and to comply with village standards in order to limit noise and address other nuisance concerns of the neighbors.

Mayor Terry Weppler believes the settlement is a good compromise that allows Aldridge to continue to operate the turbine while addressing some of the neighbors’ issues.

“I don’t think anybody is probably totally happy with the settlement, but that’s typically a sign that it came out fair to everyone concerned,” he said.

Gary Newell, one of the neighbors who was a plaintiff to the lawsuit, said he could not comment on the matter because all of the details of the settlement have not been finalized. The Libertyville Village Board has unanimously approved the settlement.

Meanwhile, Ken Aldridge, owner of Aldridge Electric, said he is glad it appears the lawsuit may finally be settled.

“I would have preferred to have been able to run it full time, but on the other hand, I don’t want to upset all the neighbors,” he said. “I hope the neighbors are satisfied.”

Aldridge said he built the turbine to provide some energy for his business, but it was primarily intended to show the potential of wind energy and it was never intended to be a money-making venture.

“I still think it’s a great idea. I don’t have any regrets,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Village Board continues to defer final action on a proposed wind ordinance. The board will hold a special committee of the whole meeting at a later date to consider the ordinance.

Under the proposed ordinance, a special-use permit would be required for the installation of any building-mounted wind turbine or tower-mounted wind turbine in any zoning district of the village. The maximum sound level for wind energy facilities has been decreased from 60 decibels at residential property lines to 35 decibels during the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. and 40 decibels between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Building-mounted wind turbines would be allowed up to a height of 15 feet above the highest point of the building structure and tower-mounted turbines could not exceed 125 feet under the ordinance. Tower-mounted turbines would only be allowed in non-residential districts.

Weppler said he felt the requirements of the proposed ordinance, particularly the decibel requirements, were too restrictive for anyone who wanted to install a wind turbine in the village.

“My personal opinion is this ordinance in essence prohibits wind turbines,” he said.

He recommended the matter be continued to a committee of the whole meeting so that the board could consider the ordinance further.

Newell said the village Plan Commission, staff and village attorney had spent the last several months reviewing the ordinance and questioned why the board would defer a decision.

Weppler said his recommendation to defer the matter is not designed to kill the ordinance, but simply to give the board more time to consider the various aspects.

“We’re saying that after eight months before the plan commission it deserves more than five minutes before the village board,” he said.