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 admitted to being a layman and agreed that public health and safety are important. He also said the Farm Bureau supports adequate setbacks to insure that the public is protected. If he truly feels that way, how can he advocate the minimal restrictions in effect when the Baileyville permit was issued? He will say that they are strong enough. I think what he really believes is they are weak enough to allow industrial wind farms.
Dr. Carl Phillips and Dr. Thomas Thunder are trained scientists who gave sworn testimony, as experts, before the ZBA. Phillips’ research found, the closer people live to the turbines, the more frequently they 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 definitive proof is available to tell us that for Ogle County a setback of this specific distance is required to limit health problems to a specific level. Part of the problem is that no political body, faced with the task of placing limits on construction of wind farms, is willing to say how many residents and voters, living in proximity to the proposed site, they are willing to have suffer health issues. I ask you, our County Board, how many Ogle County residents are you willing to make sick? Just how sick are you willing to make us? If you won’t answer those questions, how can you expect a scientist to tell you what setback distance will give you an acceptable result? When asked how far he thought was an appropriate setback, Phillips answered “start at two miles” and if the industry wants to prove shorter distances are safe then let them.
The Ogle County Farm Bureau would have you believe that the property rights of the poor farmer that wants an industrial turbine are being violated. The industrial turbines of today are so big that they have effects far beyond the boundaries of the piece of land they sit on. The noise they generate and the shadow flicker they cause are not affected by fence lines. The text amendment seeks to protect the property rights of ALL property owners. My neighbor has a right to do what he wants on his land, as do I, but neither one of us have the right to do something that will injure our neighbors. Part of the role of government is to protect the many from the few.
At this time, it appears that our choice is accept this Text Amendment, as written, or 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 if they would rather have too few of us sick because maybe 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, I ask that you contact all six of your County Board representatives. You do not have to convince all six of them to vote your way. Convincing just one of your board members may make the difference.
Those of you around Forreston, Leaf River, Polo, Mt. 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? 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 for more industrial wind farms will likely be filed very quickly. At that point it will be too late. Please voice your opinion now. This may be your last chance.
Pam and Dick Gambrel are residents of Chana, Ill.
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