BELVIDERE – The Boone County Regional Planning Commission gave support this week to a zoning amendment that would likely derail an Irish company’s plans to build a wind farm in Boone County.
The ultimate decision on whether to adopt the amendment will be made by the County Board.
The amendment, proposed by county residents David Cleverdon and Karen Kenney, would increase the county’s 1,000-foot distance requirement between wind turbines and primary structures to “not less than 2,640 feet or 5.5 times the height of the (Wind Energy Conversion Systems) including the blades at the highest point, whichever is greater.”
According to Gina DelRose, associate planner for the Boone County Planning Department, if the amendment is passed by the County Board, “It will make it significantly more difficult” for the Ireland-based renewable energy company Mainstream Renewable Power to put turbines in Manchester and LeRoy townships, where it has expressed interest in building a $300 to $400 million wind farm with as many as 100 turbines on 12,000 acres.
With the amendment’s new distance requirements in place, “without a waiver there’s not a single property (in the county) that could have a wind farm,” DelRose said.
Cleverdon and Kenney’s amendment would allow landowners to waive the distance requirements as long as they obtained permission from neighbors with whom they share a property line. Last month, the two proposed a different version of the amendment that did not mention waivers. That version was denied.
Cleverdon said that he supports alternative energy and described himself as a “believer in wind power,” but “right now the assumption is that you should basically be able to build wind turbines anywhere, regardless, and … the issues of health and safety and property rights are not being adequately heard or addressed”
He said that the amendment is not an attempt to stymie Mainstream’s turbine plans.
“We hope that ultimately that the text amendment gets adopted and that the people in the county are safer,” Cleverdon said.
Attempts to reach representatives at Mainstream Renewable Power for comment were unsuccessful.
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