The construction of a wind farm will destroy roads and bridges. In Lee County, Brooklyn Township trustee Wesley Englehart has asked Goldwind, a Chinese company that Mainstream has collaborated with, to pay $620,000 for additional road repairs. Trustee Englehart cited damage to a $130,000 big box culvert and grooves left in a bridge, as examples. If the roads in Boone County are in a better condition than the roads in Lee County, repairs will cost even more. Many township roads are not even paved in the area of Bureau County that adjoins Lee County.
A representative from Mainstream testified before the Boone County Zoning Board of Appeals that the company builds wind farms, but it does not actually own them after construction. That is why Mainstream has collaborated with Goldwind in the past. Trustee Englehart said that he is dealing with officials in Chicago who will not even answer a phone. If an industry will not pay $620,000 for additional road repairs, why would anyone ever think that the industry will pay millions of dollars for decommissioning structures that sit on top of thousands of cubic feet of concrete and fill? Marshall Newhouse testified that it is an industry practice to leave concrete and fill in the ground below a certain depth after decommissioning.
Less than a decade after purchasing their wind turbine, Erie School Board President Charles Brown suggested that the district should look into selling their wind turbine because it was a poor investment choice. Bureau Valley is having similar problems now. By the time the consequences of having a wind farm are realized, the residents who are the closest to the wind farm will be stuck living with it and so will you if you send your children to North Boone.
The ZBA recommended a 1,500 foot setback from non-consenting property. That means that the edge of the wind farm could be as close as 1,500 feet from North Boone school property. Why would some County Board members want to shorten that setback to 1,000 feet from the actual school building?
Finally, what most Boone County residents do not know is that the Bureau County ZBA unanimously rejected Mainstream’s application to construct 19 wind turbines because of Mainstream’s inability or unwillingness to pay for road repairs and an inadequate decommissioning plan in case of abandonment.
Mainstream argued that it did not need to follow the guidelines of the Bureau County road-use agreement because the roads that it would use are township roads. That is what happened in Brooklyn Township. Mainstream withdrew its application in Bureau County, but Mainstream did not withdraw its application in neighboring Whiteside County.
Will Boone County allow Mainstream to do what it was not allowed to do in Bureau County or will Boone County approve the changes to the ordinance that the ZBA recommended?
Aaron M. Funfsinn is a concerned citizen who has opposed wind farms in Boone County for a decade.
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