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Official: Expect much wind input

DIXON – Dozens of people are expected to speak about wind farms at Tuesday’s meeting of the Lee County Board, says its chairman, who is moving public comments from the end of the meeting to the beginning.

They will comment on the proposed new wind energy ordinance, which the board will vote on in April, Chairman Jim Seeberg, R-Ashton, said Thursday.

Tuesday will be the only chance for the public to address the 28-member board about the proposed regulations.

Under the county’s policy, residents can speak up to 10 minutes about issues on the meeting agenda. But they can’t do so until after all decisions for that meeting have been made.

Tuesday’s meeting will be an exception. In April, the public comment period will return to the end of the meeting.

At Thursday’s County Board Finance Committee meeting, member Marilyn Shippert, R-Dixon, asked whether the board could amend the proposed wind ordinance at its April 17 meeting.

Others said no. State’s Attorney Henry Dixon advised the board to take all amendments through the Zoning Board of Appeals, which spent months drafting the proposed ordinance.

Seeberg said the board could amend the document as early as the May meeting.

But Dixon warned about having all board members “litigate it all over again.” He said the zoning board was a much better place to handle such issues.

He noted that the zoning board had heard much input, including about things such as how wind turbines affect bees.

The proposed ordinance on wind energy keeps the same required distance between homes and wind turbines – 1,400 feet. Unlike the current ordinance, the new one includes regulations for shadow flicker and a program to protect the values of nearby homes.

Shippert said she would vote for the ordinance because it’s better than the current one. But she said she would like to amend it.

Member Judy Truckenbrod, R-West Brooklyn, said she was particularly concerned about the decommissioning of turbines. She and others want strict rules to make sure companies take down turbines once they abandon them, so the county isn’t full of rusting albatrosses.

Dixon noted that the current ordinance includes nothing about decommissioning.

Soon, Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power is expected to submit an application to Lee County for a wind farm in the southwestern part of the county. It plans turbines for Whiteside and Bureau counties.

To attend

The Lee County Board will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday on the third floor of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St. in Dixon.

The board is expected to hear public comment on a proposed wind energy ordinance.

For an agenda for this meeting, minutes from past meetings, or more information, go to www.countyoflee.org or call 815-288-5676.