PAXTON – Ford County’s regulation of wind farms was the main topic of visitors who asked to address the county board during Monday night’s monthly meeting. Many were critical of the recent Ford County Planning Commission meeting.
Ann Ihrke said the planning commission did not know its duties and did not follow the Open Meetings Act. She said the commission’s only authority is to make a comprehensive plan for land use in the county. She also questioned at length the amount of fact-finding done by commissioners before their Sept. 6 meeting.
Cindy Ihrke added that any planning commission member with a signed wind farm contract could have a conflict of interest in voting on wind farm-related matters, noting that such action could also be in violation of their contract with the wind farm company. She also urged that anyone holding a lease for a turbine be removed from the commission and urged the county board to hold a special meeting to address these conflict concerns before the commission meets again on Sept. 27.
Kirk Allen asked if the planning commission has a regional plan for the county, which is the commission’s only duty. Allen said the commission does not have the power to review ordinances nor to make any recommendations to the county board. He termed an owner’s property rights as “sacred” and any diminishment of those rights would likely result in legal challenges.
Denis Fisher said safety of county residents is his main concern.
Joann Fetzner said she disliked the fact that wind farm companies had a major hand in developing the county’s proposed new ordinance for wind farms. Fetzner criticized the ordinance as being “written for wind companies, by wind companies.”
Patti Meunier pointed out that even the wind farm companies say 1,640 feet is the “evacuation zone,” so she feels consideration of setback distances should start at “anything less” than that distance. Meunier also pointed out that wind farm representatives said the proposed 650-foot turbines will be the first of that height to be installed in the U.S.
John Kraft said he was concerned with the county’s upcoming destruction of certain paper records. Board member Tom McQuinn said all correct procedures were being followed by department heads, and the paper copies were duplicates of digital records.
In other business Monday:
➜ The board approved the sale of a dilapidated building at 311 Township Line Road in Kempton. Evan Jehle purchased the property for $1,959.37, with just over $1,300 of that price going to the county as payment for back taxes. County records indicate the property was formerly owned by Men in Black Inc.
➜ The board approved an agreement with the Ford County Soil & Water District, including a payment of $5,000 to the SWCD.
➜ The board approved a resolution to allow the destruction of documents by the county assessor and probation department.
➜ The board approved a resolution to allow increases in certain fees, including document fees, by the offices of the county clerk, assessor and others.
➜ The board learned the supervisor of assessments office is preparing for the quadrennial reassessment in 2019. The staff has nearly all card record data put into the computer program.
➜ Circuit Clerk Kim Evans said she will continue to report monthly to the board about uncollected fees from her office.
➜ The board learned that the Ford County Public Health Department will soon start flu shot clinics. Staff is also preparing to implement a new food ordinance by Jan. 17 that will reflect changes to the state’s food code and standardized notices. Notices will now be posted as “pass,” “pass with conditions” and “fail.” Administrator Lana Sample said church kitchens will continue to not be assessed.
➜ Board member Chase McCall said that at a recent Champaign-Ford Regional Office of Education meeting, it was reported that the office’s 2019 budget looks good, but there continues to be a teacher shortage, especially in rural areas.
➜ The board entered closed session shortly after 8 p.m. but indicated it would be for discussion only.
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