MORRISON – Whiteside County Board members are expected to decide today whether to allow a company to build a wind farm in the southeastern part of the county.
Most of the board’s 27 members have been silent on how they’ll vote. Two members said they support it, three others lean that way. None has publicly opposed it.
The latest to come out for the wind farm is Ken Roeder, D-Fulton.
“We need good-paying jobs and industry in Whiteside County,” he said.
Earlier this month, the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended the board approve the wind farm, subject to a number of conditions.
Three of the commission’s five public hearings on the wind farm focused on resident Greg Wahl’s objections. He owns land near the proposed project – 22 acres of which he calls undisturbed prairie.
At the first meeting, he showed up alone. After that, he came with his attorney, Rick Porter, who has fought wind farms around Illinois.
“I had never attended a public hearing and was quite surprised at the advantage a sophisticated applicant like Mainstream has over the general public and our local zoning commission,” said Wahl in a letter to Sauk Valley Media.
He wanted to protect threatened species on his land.
“When I realized I had little chance, I hired an attorney to assure my case was heard,” said Wahl, CEO of Wahl Clipper Corp., Whiteside County’s largest private employer.
He said he addressed the environmental concerns because he didn’t know much about wind turbines’ effects on humans.
“We are not ready for [turbines] because more study is needed on human health effects,” he said. “The only … urgency is people can’t seem to wait to get deals done.”
He urged the board to reject the proposal for nine turbines.
In the conditions, the company is required to place turbines a half mile away from the undisturbed prairie. That’s farther than the required setback between homes and turbines, which is a little more than a quarter mile.
Earlier this month, John Martin of Mainstream told members of the county’s Public Works Committee that the 22 acres would have to be legally defined so that the company would know where to put the turbines.
He questioned the requirement that Mainstream mitigate problems within 24 hours. He requested the county require the company to give a response within 48 hours and mitigate issues within a reasonable time. Such problems would include interference with TV and radio reception, shadow flicker and noise.
On Monday, Martin said, “We’re looking forward to bringing this investment to Whiteside County.”
The wind farm would also include Lee and Bureau counties, which are still holding hearings for the project.
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