BELVIDERE – The Boone County Planning, Zoning and Building Committee wants to be certain property values are addressed in regulations governing wind farms.
Member Terri Glass chose property rights as her area of study and found property values of non-participant landowners were not part of any county’s rules.
While anyone can sue for most anything, she said that takes time and money. What she wanted was language in the ordinance allowing the non-participant property owner and wind farm developer to work out any property value problems, without involving the county.
She told the committee May 14 that DeKalb County requires this opportunity as a special use condition. Mainstream Renewable Power, developer of a proposed 8,000-acre wind farm in northeastern Boone County, plans to apply for a special use permit later this year.
In anticipation of that the PZB committee is studying regulations in five areas and offering recommendations that ultimately will be considered by the county board.
DeKalb County’s regulations allow a non-participant within one mile of a wind turbine to seek relief. But when Glass offered a motion to have that as part of Boone County’s package of rules there was no second.
“I don’t want to touch it,” committee Chairman Marshall Newhouse said of the property values area.
County board Chairman Bob Walberg, attending the meeting in an ex-officio capacity, supported the Glass proposal, saying, “This saves time and money. It is more efficient than the court system.”
The committee finally agreed in a 4-0 vote (member Kenny Freeman left the meeting earlier) to recommend that non-participants living within 2 ½ miles of a wind farm have the ability to negotiate property value issues with the developer, rather than the one mile as in the DeKalb County ordinance.
County roads would be affected by heavy truck traffic when parts of the wind turbines are brought to their various sites. The committee wants to be sure repairs are made by the developer, with no expense for the county.
Committee member Freeman had this study area. He said he consulted with Boone County Engineer Rich Lundin, who thought Lee County’s ordinance was the best fit for this county. “The engineer must approve the impact analysis,” Freeman said.
He added that Manchester and Leroy townships would have separate agreements with the developer.
Lee County has had a number of wind farm projects, Newhouse said. He wondered if Lee’s ordinance would protect roads, return them to their original condition and place the financial burden on the developer.
“Yes,” Freeman replied. “It also addresses bridges and culverts.”
The committee voted 5-0 to recommend Freeman’s suggestions to the county board.
Committee member Brad Fidder researched fees, with a recommendation that each turbine be assessed a $12,300 building charge.
“The planning department will need help because the phone is going to be ringing off the hook down there,” should development of a wind farm begin, he said.
County Administrator Ken Terrinoni said the county as a whole “will need additional, professional help.”
There was minimal discussion of this area, with Fidder’s recommendation being approved in a 4-0 vote.
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