The Livingston County Board convened Thursday evening to give constituents another chance to discuss their concerns or support for a proposed wind farm that could be built in District 3.
At the very beginning of the meeting, a memo was read from Livingston County States Attorney Seth Uphoff explaining the protocol that is required to stage a 90-day moratorium on acceptance of wind energy permit applications.
The first half of the evening was spent arguing among a few board members concerning exactly what Uphoff’s memo meant. Two parts of the agenda were requested to be stricken, including the part about the moratorium and public comment on agenda items.
After still more argument, those were both stricken and the second opportunity for public comment began after the board voted to pass the establishment of a process for review of the county’s wind energy ordinance to the Ag, Zoning and Emergency Services Committee.
This meeting, in comparison to the regular board meeting last Thursday, had speakers from both sides of the fence, including those who had signed up for towers eight years ago and changed their minds on their stance since, people in support of the towers and wind energy, as well as tower construction workers using their experience with the turbines to tell the board and audience the windmills are completely harmless.
Some of the complaints people have brought forth include a low frequency hum, nausea, dizziness, nervousness and sleep issues, as well as shadow flickers from the blades. Some spoke, wishing to have further setback from property lines and foundations and some wanted property value protection, so their family farms and homes, some more than a century old, wouldn’t lose a great deal of value.
One man said his house sits a mere 1,300 feet from a turbine and, like many other things, he has gotten so used to it that it doesn’t bother him and it’s part of everyday life.
Another gentleman said he signed a contract for a turbine in 2008 and regrets it. He now realizes he didn’t fully understand the entire situation and sees now that one turbine can affect areas larger than just the one spot in which they’re located.
Others said there are no proven medical or physical effects caused by turbines and having them are a great way to make money.
One of the last speakers reminded the audience what they were there for – reviewing the wind energy ordinance. So many people spoke Thursday about either being for or against the wind farms that he reminded them they were all there to find a compromise and do what’s right for everyone. He suggested instead of the 140 turbines that they look into 80, or a little more than half the original planned turbines.
Right after, an Iroquois County Board member spoke, explaining his county has gone through a similar situation. He said he wouldn’t speak to sway members one way or another, but he wanted to give them an idea what his county went through. He said at first, he was thrilled with the idea, but after time, he did more research and found the potential impact on people living near the turbines. He suggested, in essence, as much research on the project is done, because backtracking after they are up can be more difficult than never putting them up in the first place, from covering windows to shield the shadow flicker, the sleep deprivation and the tax increases.
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