OREGON—After years of legal obstacles and long mission delays for the Baileyville Wind Farm, LLC, in Maryland Township, Apex Wind Energy experienced a favorable nod as the Ogle County Board approved a “special use” permit, to allow installation of underground cables that will connect to the wind turbines, once built. On this Tuesday night, the board voted in favor of permit by an 11 to 9 count.
The wind farm, which was initiated in 2005, is projected to build 40 turbines, which would owned by John and Dawn Collman and is leased out to Apex Wind Energy.
Since the development of the project, the wind farm experienced many setbacks in regards to lawsuits by opponents and letters suggesting denial. Michael Dickinson, mayor of the Village of Adeline sent a letter to the Ogle County Planning and Zoning Administration, suggesting the wind farm would violate the village’s existing ordinance that a such an operation cannot be within a 1.5-mile radius of the village.
Some board members voiced their opinions on the highly controversial topic.
“There appears to be some land leases that have not been signed and there are some studies that have not yet been done,” said county board member Bill Welty. “The right answer, is to tell us, the county board, what is going on with the project, where our lease is for the turbines and where the turbines can be placed in the property, to update all of the studies and come forward with a completed project, rather than by piece.”
Fellow trustee, Lyle Hopkins, disagreed.
“Mr. Chairman, I believe that what we are looking at is one special use to apply for putting underground cable under certain grounds. That’s all the special use is for and that’s the only thing we’re supposed to be looking at,” Hopkins added. “We’re only supposed to look at this one issue; we’re not looking at the broad spectrum. That’s the only thing that we should be voting for. I think too many things are getting misconstrued in this issue. All that we should be looking at is the special use underground cable.”
In response to this, board member Pal White said that this special use is a “build on” to the original special use.
“I believe this is something that got slid in under the radar to make a windmill project more viable,” he said.
Fellow board member Kim Gouker agreed that there was a connection and would therefore vote to deny the special use.
After listening to the issue being batted around, board member Lynne Kilker spoke up and told the board that this vote needed to be decided upon the sole issue pertaining to special use and not by personal agendas with the project as a whole. She also said that the special use request meets the ZBA standards and therefore, the cables should be approved.
“When I first came on the county board many, many years ago, it was explained to me very clearly that the only thing you should consider on zoning issues when you make your vote is what was said and done at that board of appeals hearing,” she pointed out. “You’re going to get 500 letters from people, you’re going to get phone calls and you’re going to get stopped at the grocery store but you must make your decision based on what happened and what you heard at the board of appeals hearing. I just want to remind you of that.”
After the air cleared of further discussion, voting commenced with the majority choosing to allow the permit to install cables. Those in favor of the special use were Jason Bauer, Dorothy Bowers, Bobbie Colbert, Richard Gronewold, Marcia Heuer, Lyle Hopkins, Fred Horner, Skip Kenney, Lynne Kilker, Patricia Saunders and Kim Stahl. Those voting against the special use were Max Baumgardner, Larry Boes, Bob DeArvil, John Finfrock, Kim Gouker, Ashley Simms, Bill Welty, Paul White and Dennis Williams.
Salary raise granted
Another heated topic on Tuesday night stemmed from the proposal to raise the salary for two Ogle County Board of Review members from the current $2,000 rate to $3,500 within the next fiscal year.
Rounds of discussion eventually led to the passing of the wage raise, with a 14-6 vote.
The raising of the salary has been a sensitive topic since last fall, when board members voted to slash the pay of Jerry Griffin and Paul Lower from $4,500 to $2,000. This mid-cycle pay cut was one of the reasons that lead to the resignations of the two longtime board members. Before his leaving, Griffin said it was inappropriate that the board reduced his salary in the middle of the term of his position.
Bearing this in mind, Jason Bauer questioned the raise of the raise right after it was brought up.
“What is the change of heart with this? Six months ago, we voted $2,000 and now we’re voting up to $3,500 again. I don’t understand all of sudden, what has changed?”
Welty replied that the two members resigned left after the pay decrease and that the new members were aware of the lower $2,000 pay but took it anyways. Once the new members became accustomed to the workload, they said that the pay did not match the level of work.
“Again, what’s the change in philosophy that we have $2,000 back in September and that was the price we thought was good to pay?” Bauer asked.
Welty: “That was a mistake. I think we dropped too low.”
Bauer: “Shouldn’t it be fair then to ask the people that were on it to take the $3,500 and take the position back?”
Welty: “We already have those three positions filled.”
Bauer “This just looks ugly. I just looks like it was nothing more than to get the previous three out of there.”
Barnes: I agree, I made a mistake when I recommended the lower salary. They did a lot more than I thought.
Gouker chimed in as well.
“It was discussed that we did this intentionally and I take issue with that. We thought it was an overpaid position as Jim [Barnes] mentioned,” Gouker said.
After volleying the topic, the motion eventually carried with a vote of 14 to 6. Those in favor of the salary raise included Jim Barnes, Max Baumgardner, Larry Boes, Bobbie Colbert, Kim Gouker, Marcia Heuer, Lyle Hopkins, Fred Horner, Lynne Kilker, Patricia Saunders, Kim Stahl, Bill Welty, Paul White and Dennis Williams. Those against the motion were Jason Bauer, Dorothy Bowers, Bob DeArvil, Richard Gronewald, Skip Kenney and Ashley Simms.
• The board held a moment of silence for the recently deceased William “Bill” Spencer (July 1, 1925 to Aug. 17, 2012). Bill Spencer passed away at 87 years of age and contributed to the area as Ogle County Sheriff from 1963 to 1966, served on the Ogle County Board from 1991 to 1992 and again from 1993 to 2006, served as chairman at Finance Committee for nine years and served his country during WWII.
• The board approved of allowing some area of Ogle County to be added into joining Rockford’s Metropolitan Planning Area, per request of the Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning. The switch will be of no cost to Ogle County and it is does not have to be a permanent contract.
• The H.E.W. and Solid Waste grant was passed to allow funding for the inspection of landfills, as dictated by the EPA.
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