PRINCETON – The Bureau County Board is looking to loosen up its regulations on small wind power.
The board’s Zoning Committee recently was approached by a Bureau County resident who was looking to get a conditional use permit for a wind generator less than 100 kilowatts.
On Tuesday, board member Mike Maynard explained the resident was going through the lengthy three-step process required by the county to get the permit. The process includes a public hearing, zoning board of appeals approval and then to the county board for a final approval.
“It’s going to take three months because of the process he has to go through for a conditional use permit. Every windmill that’s put up, regardless of its size, has to go through that process,” Maynard said. “I think we need to re-look at that zoning from a standpoint of a homeowner wanting to put one up. I think it’s kind of extreme to have to go through those steps.”
Maynard further explained he’s heard in other surrounding counties, a person can just walk into an office and get a permit for wind generators less than 100 kilowatts.
Board member Loretta Volker, who also sits on the Zoning Committee, explained that in Bureau County it’s a lengthy process because the county’s ordinance is based on the “huge wind farms.
“Unfortunately we didn’t see this trend hitting in,” she said.
It seemed to be a consensus among the board members the ordinance be changed to allow a more reasonable process for residents seeking to purchase wind generators under 100 kilowatts.
Board member Robert Albrecht commented, “If it’s a 40 or 50 kilowatt wind generator, so what?”
“We shouldn’t bother people putting these on their property. We shouldn’t make it this hard for these people,” he said.
Maynard said people are out trying to sell the generators; it’s something that creates revenue, and the county board should support it by making it easier to obtain one.
“Solar and wind is going to be a fact of life, and we shouldn’t make it this difficult to get a small wind generator on someone’s farm,” he said.
In other news, the board:
• Announced a board re-organizational meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1.
• Approved entering into intergovernmental agreement with Marshall County for a county line bridge replacement. Steve Sondgeroth, chairman of the Transportation Committee, explained Marshall County is the lead agency in the project, and the cost share for Bureau County will be $68,072.
• Approved a county maintenance resolution, which is an annual document submitted to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Sondgeroth explained it’s an estimate of maintenance costs the county plans to spend in the next year. The maintenance items include things like patching mix, solutions for erosion control, gravel, rock and salt mixtures for ice control, traffic marking paint, etc. This year the county submitted a total price of $986,000, which will be filed for Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) funding.
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