November 22, 2018

DeKalb County Board approves ordinance for wind energy development

By Katie Finlon | Daily Chronicle |

SYCAMORE – After at least nine months of discussion and deliberation, the DeKalb County Board finally passed a final wind ordinance during its meeting Wednesday at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau.

The board voted, 19-3, in favor of the ordinance, which included two amendments by County Board member Maureen Little to bring back the wind ordinance sections that originally mandated zero shadow flicker and stricter noise regulations. Two board members were absent.

The vote comes after several board members, including DeKalb County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski Jr., expressed disappointment in board member Dan Cribben for bringing forward several amendments that would make adjustments to some of the most contentious parts of the wind ordinance, including shorter setbacks.

“Now is not the time, at the 11th hour, to change everything,” Pietrowski said.

Cribben submitted 13 additional proposed amendments ahead of the Wednesday meeting. Those amendments included eliminating tower height restrictions, adjusting setback distances by tower height, determining which setbacks could be subjected to a waiver and changing enforcement regulations – none of which made it into the final ordinance.

“Quite simply, the county does not require this level of enforcement for any other applicant for any other special use permit,” Cribben said.

Little, a Republican who represents District 2 that includes Kingston and Genoa, said she probably has heard from more people than other board members regarding the ordinance. She said she fully supported the original wind ordinance draft and did not support Cribben’s amendments.

“You cannot work on this diligently and, at the last moment, flip this,” Little said.

Pietrowski previously had said the goal was to have the vote happen before the new County Board starts meeting regularly after the Nov. 6 election. A new board will be seated during a Dec. 3 County Board meeting.

The county’s Planning and Zoning Committee also unanimously voted last month to advance the ordinance to the County Board with the recommendation of approval submitted by county hearing officer Dale Clark. Board members had said the hearing officer’s recommendations were vague at best, but agreed the best decision is to move the ordinance forward after more than a year of discussion.

Board member Tracy Jones said the ordinance that ended up being passed during the County Board meeting Wednesday basically was the original version that the Planning and Zoning Committee approved before the hearing officer added his recommendations last month.

Jones said he disagreed with all of Cribben’s proposed amendments that made it to a vote. Despite not seeing eye-to-eye with Cribben, he said, he thought those amendments provided excellent discussion that needed to happen during the Wednesday meeting ahead of the final vote.

“I think that’s what good government does,” Jones said.

The final vote comes after the moratorium that the county set on wind energy projects in 2017 was extended to the end of this year by the County Board during a September meeting. It originally was supposed to expire last month if the county didn’t pass a wind ordinance, but was extended to the end of the year or until the county passed a final ordinance.

Wind developers now will be able to submit proposals for special use permits.

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