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Voice your views on setbacks

On Jan. 17 at the Ogle County Board meeting, some people with special interests said the proposed Wind Energy Conversion Systems text amendment is not acceptable. As president of the Ogle County Farm Bureau, Brian Duncan has used its resources to support industrial wind turbines both in Ogle and neighboring counties.

During his sworn testimony at Ogle County’s Zoning Board of Appeals hearings, Duncan conceded to being a layman and agreed that public health and safety are important. He also said the Farm Bureau supports adequate setbacks to ensure that the public is protected.

Drs. Carl Phillips and Thomas Thunder are trained scientists who testified, as experts, before the zoning board. Phillips’ research found the closer people live to the turbines, the more frequently people have health issues and the more severe those health issues are. Thunder explained how sounds generated by industrial wind turbines are the cause of many of those problems. The text amendment’s sound limits are based on his recommendations.

No one can tell us how long a setback we need. Part of the problem is that no political body, faced with the task of placing limits on wind farms, is willing to say how many residents they are willing to make sick. If they won’t answer that question, how can they expect a scientist to recommend an appropriate setback distance?

When asked to recommend a setback, Phillips answered, “Start at 2 miles.” If the industry wants to prove shorter distances are safe, let them do it.

At this time, either we accept this text amendment or we go back to the Baileyville limits. Brian Duncan would have us go back to Baileyville. Realistic, honest people have learned enough that they know the Baileyville limits are not a safe option.

Our county board must decide whether they would rather have too few of us sick because they did too good a job of protecting us, or too many of us sick because they decided there should be wind farms in our county at any cost. Realistically, those are their only choices.

Again, we ask that you contact all six of your county board representatives. You do not have to persuade all six of them to vote your way. Persuading just one of your board members may make the difference.

Those of you around Forreston, Leaf River, Polo, Mount Morris and Adeline may have more influence than many in the rest of the county. Your representatives strongly favor the wind industry. Is that what you want?

Those of you north of Ashton and Franklin Grove, do you know that leases have been signed and an industrial wind installation is planned for your area?

The county board plans to vote on this amendment at the Feb. 21 meeting. If it fails, and the Baileyville limits remain the standard, applications for permits may be filed as soon as the moratorium expires on Feb. 29. At that point, it will be too late. Please voice your opinion now.

Note to readers – Pam and Dick Gambrel are retired and live on her family farm just outside of Chana. They were both raised in Ogle County, where they have spent much of their lives.