SYCAMORE – Jennifer Bunker is used to watching her children play on their four-wheelers and having barbecues on her South Grove Township property, but now she is concerned of a potential intrusion into her tranquility – a 198-foot wind testing tower.
“[My property] is not going to be worth a plug nickel if [a wind testing tower] is right there in my backyard,” Bunker said. “My 6 acres is going to be worth nothing, absolutely nothing. I won’t be able to get someone to buy it ever.”
Bunker was among a room full of DeKalb County residents who lined up during a public hearing Thursday to go on record stating their opposition to the proposed wind testing towers.
San Diego-based EDF Renewable Energy has asked the DeKalb County Board for a special use permit to construct two wind testing towers that would determine the economic viability of areas in South Grove Township for potential wind turbines.
Almost everyone at Thursday’s public hearing in the DeKalb County Legislative Center seemed to be against any possible development from the company, many wearing matching anti-wind turbine stickers on their clothes.
Some expressed concern that they were not invited to meetings with company representatives and property owners who would potentially lease their land for wind turbines.
P.J. Saliterman, EDF’s development director, said the company identified residents with a certain land acreage who could potentially host wind turbines in the future.
“There are different sets of questions that those groups might have, so from our standpoint it makes sense to have different types of events for people that have different sets of questions,” he said. “We’re not talking about signing leases with everyone in the project area.”
Donna Romain of South Grove Township said the company was lacking transparency by hosting meetings without telling everyone in the area who might be affected.
“That’s kind of like having a party next door and you’re not invited,” Romain said. “That’s not neighborly.”
A common argument was that the company should wait to install the testing towers until the moratorium established by the board is up and an ordinance has been established concerning renewable energy.
“I do feel that we may be putting the cart before the horse to put the [wind] towers up before we have an ordinance,” said Brad Bellanger of South Grove Township.
The length of time the wind testing towers would stay up was another issue debated.
Although county staff have suggested a limit of 18 months for the towers, Saliterman said the company is requesting a period of three years.
Some had an issue with the fact that data gathered by the testing towers would stay within the company and not be shared with the board, and others suggested that less densely populated areas would be more suitable for a wind farm.
“You said you were open to suggestions? My suggestion is find another county,” Bunker said.
DeKalb County Planning, Zoning and Building Director Derek Hiland said the Planning and Zoning Committee will consider input from the two public hearings and make a recommendation to the board whether to approve or deny the request for a special use permit.
He said the committee can also amend the request or add conditions to the proposal before making a recommendation.
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