Edwin Boggess is no fan of the proposed wind turbine farm in western Sangamon County. He thinks the turbines would be intrusive and could drive down property values.
“These wind turbines are being rammed down our throats,” Boggess told those attending a pubic meeting in New Berlin Wednesday. “There’s a reason we moved out to the country – to get away from the big buildings and city lights,”
Boggess was one of about 80 people who attended the meeting, which was designed to gather public input on possible changes in county wind farm rules.
Most of the comments during the meeting dealt with setback issues, which include how close the wind turbines can be placed to people’s property lines. The county’s current rules allow a wind turbine to be placed within 1,000 feet of a person’s home.
People also expressed concern about possible noise pollution.
Boggess, who lives off South Wake Road, would like to see a 2,500- to 3,000-foot setback from property lines.
“Why can’t we increase these setbacks?” he asked.
While no wind farm proposals are before the county board now, American Wind Energy Management is planning a wind farm in western Sangamon County.
The facility would be built in phases within an area bounded by the Morgan County line to the west, Illinois 125 to the north and Illinois 104 to the south. The eastern boundary would start in the north about a mile west of Farmingdale Road and continue south to Illinois 104.
Chris Nickell, vice president of site establishment for American Wind Energy, said the first two phases would include the area between Illinois 125 and Old Jacksonville Road. The company has about 20,000 acres in that area under contract, which is enough to move forward with the project, he said.
If the project is approved, Nickell expects 80 to 100 wind turbines to be built in the first two phases. The company hasn’t selected the exact wind turbines for the farm, but the most likely candidate is a model that is 480 to 490 feet tall.
If everything goes smoothly, the company could be ready for construction in 2014, he said.
At the start of Wednesday’s meeting, Nickell suggested the county establish a setback of 1,800 feet from any residential structure.
“That would make it the most restrictive ordinance in the state. There is another county that uses 1,800 feet,” Nickell said.
County resident John Woodruff expressed support for the project, saying a wind farm would be good for the county and for local school districts.
“All over the nation and Illinois, windmills are providing jobs, improving roads, helping school districts and lowering taxes,” Woodruff said.
County Board member Tim Moore, who chaired the meeting, disagreed with Boggess’ comment that the county is trying to ram the idea down people’s throats. He said the meeting was evidence that the board was interested in people’s opinions.
While most of the speakers expressed doubts about wind farms, Moore said the people who didn’t speak also need to be taken into consideration.
“In this room there were about 80 people. You heard from about half who were not in favor of the wind farm. The people you didn’t hear from are probably in favor of the wind farm. That’s speculation on my part, but it’s probably reasonable.”
One more meeting
The Sangamon County Board will hold another public meeting next week in Springfield to gather more comments on its wind turbine zoning ordinance. That meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, in the county board chamber of the Sangamon County Building at Ninth and Monroe streets.
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