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Deer Grove residents oppose wind farm

ROCK FALLS – JC Henrekin, a fourth-generation farmer from Deer Grove, thought a wind farm was a good idea at first. He changed his mind.

Henrekin was among a number of Deer Grove residents who spoke out Wednesday. They attended the last of the public hearings for Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power’s nine proposed turbines in southeastern Whiteside County.

“The direction of the pendulum switched hard,” Henrekin told the Whiteside County Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday. “I don’t want [wind turbines] at my back door or on my farm.”

A third-generation farmer, Dean Perino, agreed.

The turbines would surround his farm and likely hurt him economically, Perino said.

He needs to have a crop duster apply herbicides to his seed corn. With the turbines nearby, the pilot probably wouldn’t work his farm anymore because of the dangers, he said.

“If we lose the ability to apply herbicides with an airplane, I could lose my seed corn contracts.”
Without seed corn, his crop value would drop by a third, he said.

“There won’t be one window in my house where I won’t see a [wind turbine]. We love the view out here and the peace and quiet,” Perino added.

Earl John Coers, another Deer Grove farmer, told the commission that he favors wind turbines. They bring income to landowners and tax revenue for the schools and other government agencies, he said.

In a later interview, Coers said he has an agreement with Mainstream for two turbines on his property, but that would be in a proposed second phase. Mainstream’s current application is only for phase one.

Deb Murphy, whose house would be near a substation and three turbines, told the commission that a Mainstream representative referred to her place as “that house” at the first of the public hearings.

“This isn’t just that house. This is my home that I worked hard to have,” said Murphy, who works for a local hospice.

She said the turbines would be as tall as 50-story buildings and would cause her property value to drop.

Al Thompson, Deer Grove’s village president, asserted his community’s right to regulate wind turbines within 1.5 miles of the village’s limits. Two of the proposed turbines would be in that area.

Last year, Deer Grove, population 45, passed a zoning ordinance, which officials said was legally required before the village could regulate activities in the 1.5-mile area.

Mainstream questioned whether the zoning ordinance met “regulatory requirements,” but the company said it wants to work with Deer Grove on the issue.

Deer Grove contends Mainstream should have gone to the village board for the two nearby turbines, not the county.

“If they don’t pay attention to Deer Grove, they won’t care about any other town in Whiteside County,” Thompson said.

Mainstream officials didn’t comment during the public hearing Wednesday. They spoke at previous hearings.

The public hearing portion of the application process ended Wednesday. Now, the commission must decide on how to handle Mainstream’s application.

The commission next meets Aug. 1.

Mainstream is also proposing 60 turbines for Lee County and 19 for Bureau County.

To attend

The Whiteside County Planning and Zoning Commission meets at 7 p.m. Aug. 1 at the Rock Falls Community Building, 601 W. 10th St. Meetings last 2 1/2 hours.

The commission will discuss Mainstream Renewable Power’s application for turbines.

Call Whiteside County’s zoning office at 815-772-5175 for more information.