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Members silent on wind farm

MORRISON – Whiteside County Board member Dick Cox is not tipping his hand on how he will vote on a proposed wind farm.

“If I put my view in the paper, my phone will ring off the hook between now and the board meeting,” the Sterling Republican said Thursday.

Cox will be gone for a time, he said, so all of those calls would anger his wife.

He is not alone in staying mum.

The 27-member board will decide Aug. 21 on a proposal for nine turbines in the far southeastern part of the county. Last week, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval.

Sauk Valley Media tried to reach all board members Thursday. One member says he’s voting yes for sure; three others lean that way.

Seven, including Chairman Tony Arduini, D-Rock Falls, would not say where they stand.

Sixteen members couldn’t be reached for comment.

Many board members have paid close attention to the issue. At one of the commission’s hearings on Mainstream’s proposal, more than half of the County Board attended.

Bud Thompson, R-Prophetstown, said he would vote yes. His explanation was simple: “I believe in clean energy,” he said.

Sarah McNeill, D-Sterling, said she liked what the commission did, including the conditions it placed on Mainstream’s plan. But she said she is going by what she read in the newspaper, adding she is waiting to see documents associated with the proposal.

“It seemed like they [commissioners] listened to people who bothered to come to the hearings,” she said.

Karen Nelson, D-Rock Falls, agreed that the commission did a good job. She liked the requirement that Mainstream move a proposed substation farther from a house.

“I was concerned about the substation,” she said. “The people there are in my district.”

She also favored the proposed rule that turbines be one-half mile from what is known as an “undisturbed” prairie.

Steve Wilkins, D-Morrison, also spoke well of the proposal. The wind farm, he said, would bring much needed tax revenue for the county and schools.

Bob VanDeVelde, D-Sterling, who said he hadn’t decided, wanted a setback of three-fourths of a mile between houses and turbines. The county currently requires turbines to be a little more than a quarter-mile from homes.

Sue Britt, D-Morrison, was the only County Board meeting to attend all five public hearings for Mainstream’s application. She said she is mulling over the issue.

“I’m still wading through the pros and cons,” she said. “It’s a very difficult issue as far as I’m concerned.”

Residents near the proposed turbines contend the turbines’ shadow flicker and noise concern them. They’re also worried about the impact on their property values.

Mainstream, however, said its proposal mitigates those issues and follows state law.

The company has also proposed turbines for Lee and Bureau counties, which are still holding public hearings.

To attend

The Whiteside County Board meets at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21 in its chambers at the Whiteside County Courthouse, 400 N. Cherry St. in Morrison.

The board will vote on a proposed wind farm.

For an agenda for this meeting, minutes from past meetings or more information, go to www.whiteside.org or call 815-772-5100.