On Monday morning, Jeff Gorball, the zoning commission chair of the Worth County Planning and Zoning Commission, presented the Worth County Board of Supervisors with the final draft of its ordinance on wind energy.
The planning and zoning commission passed the ordinance draft on Friday night after spending over a month working to put it together.
The draft passed through the commission on a unanimous 4-0 vote.
When presenting the draft to the board of supervisors, Gorball spent time to give three recommendations from the commission regarding the ordinance to the supervisors.
The planning and zoning commission’s recommendations to the supervisors were that:
- Each city within Worth County should decide the setback of wind turbines from city limits individually, rather than the ordinance deciding a setback for the entirety of the cities within the county.
- The supervisors should provide funding to purchase proper sound measuring equipment, sufficient to be used to screen sound related complaints regarding turbines.
- The supervisors should undergo a prompt review and approval of the ordinance.
“This draft we propose likely isn’t perfect, no ordinance ever is,” Gorball said. “It is however, formed on a broad range of considerations, and put together as a system of rules that work together to provide what the commission feels is the best possible approach.”
The wind ordinance has been drafted partly in response to Invenergy’s Worthwhile Wind project, which aims to build a 30,000-acre wind farm in Worth and Winnebago counties.
Opponents of Worthwhile Wind have pointed to the negative impacts of wind turbines on the health, safety and welfare of county residents as a reason for more regulation. Proponents of the project claim that nobody has had an issue with wind turbines until recently, and point to the $4.8 million in tax revenue the project would bring in for infrastructure improvements to the county.
Invenergy did not comment on the ordinance, according to Gorball, but Invenergy representatives have stated on multiple occasions that they believe this ordinance won’t impact the Worthwhile Wind project due to vested rights.
Gorball took time following his recommendations to speak just as a Worth County resident, addressing Invenergy’s lack of response to the ordinance.
“I believe that their ultimate decision to decline comment on the draft ordinance … shows their true perspective,” Gorball said. “I was quite surprised and disappointed that they chose to provide no review or comment, even though they were asked explicitly to do so. Clearly, they are not concerned about the county, or its citizens.”
Now, the board of supervisors will decide to pass the ordinance as-is, make changes or reject the ordinance entirely.
Supervisor A.J. Stone said that the board will now review the ordinance and discuss it at a meeting in the future. Stone didn’t give a specific date on when a review or final decision on the ordinance would come.
All the supervisors also took the time to thank the members of the planning and zoning commission for their work on the wind ordinance.
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