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Lee County rejects new wind rules

DIXON – The Lee County Board this morning voted 18-4 against proposed wind energy rules, which would have been more strict than those in place.

Meanwhile, Mainstream Renewable Power announced this morning that it has applied for 60 wind turbines in Lee County. The announcement was made before the board vote on wind rule changes. The firm said its plan would “largely reflect those [proposed changes].”

The proposed changes to the ordinance were recommended by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Supporters and opponents of wind farms agreed the new rules would have been tougher than the existing ones. From there, they disagreed.

The opponents wanted an ordinance with even greater restrictions on wind farms. They proposed requiring wind turbines be at least 2,000 feet away from the property lines of nonparticipating landowners.

The Zoning Board proposed in its ordinance a setback of 1,400 feet from homes’ foundations or 3.5 times the height of a turbine, whichever is greater. For a 500-foot turbine, the setback would have been be 1,750 feet.

Wind farm supporters said the county needed to encourage such development. They argued that the county could ill afford to pass up a chance for more tax revenue to help schools.

“We’re under the old ordinance,” board Chairman Jim Seeberg, R-Ashton, said after today’s vote.