WATSEKA – A proposal to strengthen the setback requirements for wind turbines built in Iroquois County failed to receive enough votes to gain a recommendation from the Iroquois County Zoning Board of Appeals last week.
But the proposal is still alive. The Iroquois County Board’s planning and zoning committee will meet April 10 to discuss the issue and make its own recommendation for the full board’s consideration.
Under the proposal, any new turbines built in the county would need to be at least 12 “rotar diameters” from the property lines of “non-participating property owners” – defined as those landowners whose property is not being leased to the wind farm operator. The county’s wind ordinance currently calls for turbines to be at least 12 rotar diameters from structures – but only 1,500 feet from property lines – of non-participating landowners.
Meanwhile, the proposal would not change the 1,000-foot distance that turbines are required to be from structures located on land being leased to the wind farm’s operator.
The only exception to the new regulations would be for turbines in Douglas Township, which has established its own setback rules separate from the county’s. In Douglas Township, all turbines must be 2,000 feet or more from any “non-participating primary structure.”
According to the proposal, landowners would be able to waive the setback requirement, but only if the tower is located no closer than 1,000 feet of a primary structure or property line.
Iroquois County Zoning Administrator and Supervisor of Assessments Bob Yergler said the zoning board voted 3-1 in favor of the setback change following a public hearing on March 31.
However, Yergler said that state law requires a majority of the zoning board to vote in favor of the change for the proposal to receive a favorable recommendation. With seven members on the zoning board, that would have required at least four to vote in favor of the proposal. Two zoning board members were absent at the hearing, while one other recently resigned, leaving one seat vacant.
The zoning board will not reconvene to consider the proposal again, Yergler said. Instead, the county board’s planning and zoning committee will take up the issue and make an advisory recommendation at its April 10 meeting. The full board will then vote on whether to approve the proposal at its April 14 meeting.
During last week’s public hearing, a Livingston County resident joined former Iroquois County Board member Marvin Stichnoth of rural Stockland in commending the zoning board for trying to clean up the language in Iroquois County’s wind ordinance.
Last month, county board member John Shure of rural Buckley said the new setback rules would ensure that the “full use” of non-participating landowners’ property would not be inhibited. Under the current ordinance, which uses the distance turbines are from structures rather than property lines, non-participating landowners could be restricted from building barns or other structures on their land if they would be located too close to a turbine, Shure noted.
A public hearing was also held by the zoning board last week to consider numerous revisions to the county’s subdivision ordinance. The zoning board voted 4-0 in favor of the subdivision ordinance revisions.
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