WALNUT – After a lengthy debate and months of meetings, the village of Walnut finally has an ordinance to regulate wind turbines outside the village limits. The board approved the ordinance at its meeting Monday.
“Finally it’s over,” said Walnut Village Board President Rob Brasen.
The Walnut Village Board approved the final version of the ordinance at its meeting Monday on a 5-1 vote, with Duane Christensen casting the negative vote. The ordinance had moved back and forth between the board and the planning commission for several months, a process that included two public hearings.
The final version of the ordinance contains the new regulations, which will prohibit wind turbines within one mile of the village limits and require approval for anything within the one to 1.5 mile range. Other rules were set on a wide array of topics, including a conditional use permit from the village, ways to address complaints, and a property value protection plan.
The ordinance also includes the evidence and findings gathered by the board to back up its decision. Brasen said Walnut Village Attorney Rob LeSage had always said the village couldn’t create an ordinance without the facts and numbers to justify the decision.
Brasen said there currently are no turbines proposed for the area in question. On July 12, 2011, the village and the Midwest Wind Energy, the wind farm developer, came to an agreement regarding wind turbines proposed close to the village’s limits. According to the agreement, Walnut Ridge agreed not to apply for building permits or to act upon in any respect the conditional use permits as issued or extended by Bureau County for 11 wind turbines to be located within 1.5 miles from the corporate boundaries of the village, without first obtaining the prior written consent of the village.
In return, Walnut agreed not to file a lawsuit regarding Bureau County’s extension of the permits.
Brasen said it’s hard to say if the issue will arise again in the future.
“They still do have a chance to come in,” he said. “If the landowner and the adjoining landowners agree, and it meets all our requirements, there could be a wind turbine.”
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