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Commission: Wind farm rules not compatible with comp plan  

Credit:  Written by Bob Balgemann | Belvidere Daily Republican | www.belvideredailyrepublican.net 28 August 2012 ~~

BELVIDERE – The Boone County Regional Planning Commission is recommending that proposed wind energy regulations be found incompatible with the county’s comprehensive plan.

The 5-0 vote came Tuesday night and was based primarily on the belief that setbacks, recommended by the planning, zoning and building committee (PZB), would preclude a wind farm from being developed anywhere in the county.

Some commissioners also thought the proposed rules were too restrictive.

Assistant planner Gina DelRose will present that recommendation, and the commission’s comments, to the county zoning board of appeals at Tuesday night’s public hearing. It is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the county administration building, 1212 Logan Ave., Belvidere.

This is the meeting in which residents will be entitled to make comments concerning the proposed regulations.

Commissioners were considering revisions to the section 4.8 of the county zoning ordinance, wind energy conversions systems siting. The revisions were suggested by the PZB, whose five members, all sitting on the county board, conducted in-depth studies of setbacks, decommissioning, roads, fees and property rights.

Staff didn’t agree with all of the PZB recommendations.

For instance, DelRose said it thought the setback from primary structures should be 1,600 feet, not 2,000 feet as PZB wanted. “That’s the average, it’s more in line with the rest of the state and more defendable,” she said.

Commissioner Richard Gadke said the Illinois Farm Bureau is trying to have uniform statewide standards for the siting of wind farms. “The most desirable setback is 1,400 feet,” he said. “My suggestion is 1,400 feet or three times the height of the tower.”

He added that was a good compromise between staff’s recommended 1,600 feet and the 2,000 suggested by PZB.

But he thought the waiver should be just one time the height of the tower, while PZB wanted 1,400 feet.

Another commissioner, Kristine Ramsay Schnor, said a lot of jurisdictions don’t have any setback. Twenty of 57 she surveyed didn’t have any setbacks while 11 had setbacks in excess of 1,000 feet.

Most have 1,400 feet

PZB member Laura Guerin-Hunt, who studied setbacks, said previously that most of the counties she contacted had 1,400-foot setbacks in their ordinances.

Gadke said he didn’t see anything in the proposed regulations addressing the landowner who had a turbine on his property. Their well being should be considered, he said.

There also was some concern about the provision that considered an entire wind farm development to be abandoned if one of the turbines didn’t work for 12 months.

State’s Attorney Michelle Courier said a 12-month time period was reasonable and it applied to any other special use. “I wouldn’t suggest changing this,” she said.

But commissioner David Bippus joined Gadke in saying one malfunctioning turbine shouldn’t be considered the abandonment of an entire farm.

At that point commission Chairman Bill Luhman said he would allow a few brief comments from among the 20 people in the audience, who opposed the text amendments.

Leroy Township resident Julie Van Laar said she had not heard any references to the health, safety and welfare of residents. “That’s your mandate,” she said. “I want you to be responsible to all residents of Boone County.”

Mainstream Renewable Power of Dublin, Ireland is proposing an 8,000-acre wind farm, with upwards of 100 turbines, for Leroy and Manchester townships in northeastern Boone County.

Chairman Luhman reminded those in attendance that he was looking for comments from those opposed to the text amendment to the zoning ordinance.

Randall Williams, a member of the Manchester Township Board of Trustees, said that board voted against the text amendment. “We didn’t feel the 2,000 setback was enough,” he said.

Another county resident, Deanna Larson, said she objected to the setback being lessened. “Now they’re (Mainstream) talking about 512-foot turbines,” she said.

Luhman cautioned her, saying, “The kind of comments you’re making should be made to the ZBA next week.”

Source:  Written by Bob Balgemann | Belvidere Daily Republican | www.belvideredailyrepublican.net 28 August 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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