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Wind-farm rule changes could see board’s vote as early as May

PAXTON – The chairman of the Ford County Board’s zoning committee said Tuesday that the full county board could finally be in a position to vote on long-discussed new regulations for wind farms sometime in the next few months.

“But it will probably be at least May” at the earliest, said Randy Ferguson, a Gibson City resident who chairs the five-member committee, “because (County Clerk & Recorder) Amy (Frederick) has an election (in April) and (State’s Attorney) Andrew (Killian) has a bunch of court dates coming up. So the next stage is going to be slowed because of that.”

Ferguson said the zoning committee met Monday night to finalize the few remaining proposed changes to the county’s ordinance regulating wind farms – mainly the “dispute resolution” process that would be used to resolve complaints by residents against wind farms. Ferguson said “nothing major changed” from what was originally proposed – “just mostly language clarification.”

Ferguson said another zoning committee meeting would be set by the full 12-member board during its regularly scheduled monthly meeting next Monday night.

At the next committee meeting, Ferguson said, it is expected that the committee will have a “retyped” document that it will be able to review in preparation for sending it to Killian for his own review. After Killian reviews it, the committee will do so again before sending it to the full board for its approval, Ferguson said.

The proposed revisions to the county’s wind-farm ordinance, which was originally enacted in 2009, include more-restrictive setbacks and strengthened decommissioning requirements, among other changes, to help protect the county as well as nonparticipating landowners – those who are not leasing their land for use by a wind farm.

County board members began reviewing the ordinance in fall 2017 – following complaints from residents in the Kempton area who live near the Kelly Creek Wind Farm – and implemented a moratorium on the issuance of any more special-use permits for wind farms until the board completes the ordinance changes.