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Wind farm ordinance revisions sent forward

MACOMB – The McDonough County Board’s law and legal committee this week voted to send proposed revisions to the county wind farm ordinance to State’s Attorney Matt Kwacala for review. Kwacala is expected to send comments and a draft document to the committee for discussion in April.

Revisions include requiring a setback of 1,500 feet of wind turbines from homes, setting turbine height at 625 feet, setting a clearance path of 50 feet from ground to blade, following Federal Aviation Administration standards for turbine lighting, and following Illinois Environmental Protection Agency standards for noise levels. Committee chairman Joe Erlandson said there are also nine different federal and state permits required for wind farm applicants, and that the applicant has a responsibility to research and complete those.

Erlandson said the ordinance requires 30 to 60 days for notifications or corrections of any wind farm problems. He said the ordinance details public hearing procedures for wind farm applications.

In other business, the committee discussed a request from Sheriff Nick Petitgout for $62,750 in COVID-19 hazard pay for his staff for 2020. County Board Chairman Scott Schwerer said he does not believe there is sufficient money in the county general fund to comply with the request. Because of shrunken tax revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic, Schwerer said, “It is very hard to get extra money out of the general fund.”

Committee member Ken Durkin said the recent granting of hazard pay for employees of The Elms Nursing Home differs from the Sheriff’s Department request in two key aspects: The money was raised by The Elms rather than coming from the county general fund, and Elms employees dealt with COVID-19 in the workplace on a daily basis.

Schwerer said the sheriff’s request would go to the full county board for discussion. He said the financial situation could change depending on the allocation to counties from the new federal coronavirus relief package.

In a separate issue, committee member Mike Kirby asked Sheriff Petitgout for a copy of his department’s complaint policy. Kirby has requested this every month since December.

Pettigout said he did not have a copy available. “I’ll ask you for it again next month,” Kirby responded.