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Public hearing set for Aug. 27 on changes to wind ordinance

WATSEKA – The Iroquois County Zoning Board of Appeals has called a public hearing for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, to consider numerous proposed revisions to the county’s wind ordinance.

The county board voted 11-5 on July 9 to advance the changes to the public hearing process.After the hearing, the changes will go before the county board for a final vote.

The hearing will be held at the Clifford Bury Administrative Center, 1001 E. Grant St., Watseka.

County board member Marvin Stichnoth of rural Milford said the proposal calls for the wind ordinance to be changed so that the setback between turbines and nonparticipating primary structures – or homes located on property not being leased for a wind farm – be increased from 1,500 feet to a distance equivalent to 12 times the rotar diameter. The distance between a turbine and a nonparticipating property line would be 1,500 feet.

The changes would mean a 1.7-megawatt GE turbine, with a rotar diameter of 328 feet, would be required to be at least 3,936 feet from a nonparticipating structure. The setback would be 4,608 feet for a 2.4-megawatt Nordex N117 turbine, which has a rotar diameter of 384 feet, and 4,800 feet for a 2.7-megawatt Alstom ECO122 turbine, which has a rotar diameter of 400 feet.

Stichnoth, who lives one mile south from a turbine that is part of the 150-megawatt Settlers Trail Wind Farm near Sheldon, said he sometimes experiences noise issues. Other residents near the wind farm have also complained that the wind turbines are too close to their homes.

Another proposed change to the wind ordinance is that developers of wind farms would be required to prove shadow flicker will not affect non-participating landowners who live within one mile of a turbine. The developer can acquire a waiver from the affected person.

There are also new limits for the noise allowed to be emitted by wind turbines in the day and at night.

“Should the county board determine that the noise emissions appear to exceed allowable levels, an acoustic engineering firm shall be hired by the county and paid for by the owner of the (wind turbine) to determine compliance,” the proposed ordinance change reads.

There are also added requirements for meteorological (MET) towers that monitor wind speeds.

Another change is that the wind farm owner must maintain a general liability insurance policy covering bodily injury and property damage with limits of at least $20 million per occurrence and $20 million in the aggregate. The $20 million figure is up from $10 million.

Violations of the proposed ordinance would result in the wind farm operator being fined up to $1,000 for each violation.

The changes would only affect wind farms not yet built or permitted.

The county currently has two wind farms in operation – the Settlers Trail Wind Farm and the Pioneer Trail Wind Farm near Loda, both operated by E.On Climate & Renewables North America. A special-use permit has also been granted for a third wind farm, the K4 Wind Farm, being developed by Cincinatti-based Vision Energy.

The proposed changes to the ordinance can be viewed in the Planning and Zoning Office in Watseka or on the county’s website, www.co.iroquois.il.us.

Also at the Aug. 27 zoning board of appeals meeting, the board will hold a public hearing to consider revisions to the Iroquois County Flood Plain Ordinance. The revisions include removing the “1.5 feet freeboard,” which is above base flood. The proposed change would allow the lowest floor to be at base flood elevation for construction.