DIXON – The special committee to review Lee County’s proposed wind energy ordinance was arguably the Rodney Dangerfield of county government – it didn’t get a lot of respect.
But the panel took a death blow Tuesday when State’s Attorney Henry Dixon said the committee had no legal standing.
As a result, committee members agreed to disband immediately.
The panel, made up of nine County Board members, was created during March’s board meeting. It met three times, but got little support.
Earlier this month, County Board Chairman Jim Seeberg, R-Ashton, said he didn’t “really care” about the committee. The zoning administrator didn’t attend the panel’s sessions. And before the first meeting, the committee’s chairwoman, Marilyn Shippert, R-Dixon, had trouble getting into the building. A bailiff had to be called to open the old courthouse.
Tuesday, most of the discussion focused on whether the committee legally existed.
Shippert asked Dixon for his opinion.
He said the committee wasn’t “properly constituted.” He noted that the County Board took no vote on its creation and that the proposal for the committee wasn’t on the board’s agenda.
“You don’t have any real authority,” he said. “There is red flag here – a real concern.”
“If we don’t have any standing, why are we meeting?” member David Gusse, R-Dixon, said. “Should I motion to adjourn?”
Dixon said that was his point.
After an hour of discussion, committee members decided they shouldn’t meet again.
Also during the meeting, Dixon said the deadline had passed for the County Board to vote on the proposed wind energy ordinance.
The Zoning Board of Appeals, which drafted the new regulations, approved them in late February after months of meetings.
Dixon said the issue should go back to the zoning board for a hearing because 30 days had lapsed since it sent the ordinance to the County Board.
Officials didn’t make it clear what the board’s next step would be.
During Tuesday’s meeting, committee members said little. However, Gusse questioned a proposal to require wind turbines be 2,000 feet from the property lines of nonparticipating landowners.
Such a rule could apply to more than 1,000 acres of neighboring landowners, he said.
“Can one landowner control that much area?” he said. “This is the dilemma, people.”
Still, he said he wasn’t “crazy” about wind turbines.
“We need to establish the number of wind turbines in this county. When we get there, kaput. The fewer, the better,” he said. “There are 274 sticking up in Lee County right now.”
No other members discussed their positions on the issue.
The proposed ordinance includes a turbine setback of 1,400 feet between homes and turbines, or 3.5 times the height of the turbine, whichever is greater.
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