The Ag, Zoning and Emergency Services Committee of the Livingston County Board were greeted Tuesday night during its meeting by nearly 100 citizens opposing or supporting the proposed Pleasant Ridge Wind Farm, which has been the center of intense debate in the county for the past two months.
On the agenda for the evening included establishing a process for review of the county’s wind energy ordinance, which includes property value protection, setback distances and money to set aside for the deconstruction of turbines in case they are no longer used for any reason.
Committee Chairman Bob Young made the people who came to speak aware of the fact that this was a meeting to talk about the ordinance and not the pros and cons of having another wind farm.
He allowed for two portions of public comment and said he wouldn’t silence anyone who came to speak, but advised the crowd the best place for those conversations would be at the wind energy hearings in the future, which is the place where the county decides whether to build the wind farms or not.
Young thanked all the people for coming and advised them for the next 30 days, the county board office would be taken written information about potential changes to the ordinance from the public, whether it is through a letter mailed to the courthouse or via e-mail, and he requested that the information presented include factual evidence and proof to back up either side the submitter was taking. He said from that point, the board would have all the information compiled and would be able to make changes to the ordinance, if needed. The current ordinance may be found at livingstoncountyil.gov.
Young and committee member Mike Ingles also reminded the public of the fact that board members aren’t supposed to go into this kind of a decision without an open mind. They were there to listen to facts and take that information, so they could make an informed decision when the time comes to make any changes to the ordinance. Any sort of bias was detrimental to the board and the citizens of the county, which is why Young suggested factual and proven evidence when it came to any requested changes to the ordinance.
In association with the possible ordinance changes, attorney Tom Blakeman explained special attorney and consultant agreements for this specific project. Blakeman said James R. Griffin of Shain Banks, Chicago, and Patrick Engineering, Springfield, are both experts in the field and have worked with both opponents and proponents of ordinance changes. He also said they will advise and consult in the matter, but not sway the board one way or another in its decision. Blakeman also advised the cost of hiring both the attorney and consultants would be paid for through the application fee, and not at any cost to the county. The committee voted unanimously to pass the decision to the full board at next Thursday’s meeting.
To reach the county board with any information one would like to submit about the ordinance for wind energy, the board is taking written information at the Livingston County Historic Courthouse Board Office, located at 112 W. Madison St., or e-mails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting any board member.
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