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Foes and issues clearly point to petition denial; Project means noise, shadow flicker, reduced property values

Lee County Board Chairman Rick Ketchum says he will vote against the zoning board’s recommendation to reject the special use application for a 50-turbine wind farm in southwestern Lee County.

The zoning board met more than 30 times over the course of 10 months and heard testimony from both sides of the issue before members came to their conclusion to reject the petition. Mr. Ketchum attended one, maybe two, of those meetings and somehow thinks he knows better.

Over the last several years, many people in Lee County have become educated with regard to the impacts of industrial wind farms. Most of the zoning board members are among that group. Mr. Ketchum is not.

The evidence presented during the 10-month hearing overwhelmingly indicates that under the conditions proposed by the applicant, the special use would not be compatible with the existing land uses and would threaten the health, safety and welfare of those forced to live near the turbines.

I believe I speak for the concerned citizens of Lee County by demanding that Mr. Ketchum, and any other County Board members who vote against the zoning board’s decision, provide a detailed account that justifies their positions.

Their positions should be based on facts, not unsupported statements such as the one Mr. Ketchum was recently quoted saying, “The foes of the wind farm were the minority.” “Foes” of the wind farm outnumbered proponents 10-1 during the hearings.

In general, only three property owners who stand to make a bunch of money showed up in support of the project. A community survey confirms that the overwhelming percentage of informed individuals do not support the project under the conditions proposed by the applicant.

County Board member Marvin Williams was quoted as saying that he had no problem with wind turbines as long as they don’t infringe on neighbors’ rights. Mr. Williams, please read the hearing transcripts. They do, in fact, infringe on neighbor’s rights: noise, shadow flicker, aviation lights, property value reductions, etc.

Wind farm proponents need to stop dismissing the negative impacts and trying to justify this intrusion by saying it will provide tax revenue and jobs.

If that is how you think, let’s float gambling boats down the Rock River, legalize prostitution, legalize marijuana and other drugs, and tax the heck out of all of it. That will create jobs and tons of revenue, and we don’t care about the negative impacts. Right?

Some may argue that the zoning board vote was only 3-2 to deny the petition, so it’s not really a stretch to overturn it. Consider, however, the unanimous votes on the following Findings of Fact: the project will impact the rural character; shadow flicker has not been adequately mitigated; shadow flicker will be a nuisance; noise limits will be exceeded at some property lines; turbine operation will impact the health and welfare of some people; and property values could be negatively impacted.

When you look at all of the issues, the only reasonable conclusion is to deny the petition.

Note to readers – Steve Robery is a licensed professional engineer. He and his wife live in rural Franklin Grove.