WINFIELD TOWNSHIP – After deciding to send a proposed wind energy ordinance back to its Planning Commission on June 8, the Winfield Township Board called a special meeting less than a week later and reversed course.
As a result, recall petitions were filed earlier this week against three board members and a wind ordinance referendum is pending. (See accompanying story.)
“We couldn’t hear real well the other night,” Supervisor Phyllis Larson told those in attendance at the special June 15 meeting.
Clerk Colleen Stebbins followed Larson’s comments with a motion, “to review the June 8 decision to send the proposed wind ordinance to the Planning Commission and to rescind the requirement for such a review.”
The board voted 3-1 to review the ordinance, with Trustee Steve Cole voting “no.” Larson abstained from voting.
Attorney Kyle O’Meara noted it would be appropriate to send the ordinance back to the Planning Commission for further review and comment and then hold a public hearing.
During board discussion, Trustee John Black said he wanted to raise the current height limit for turbines from 650 feet to 665 feet, citing a new turbine in production.
“I did some further reviewing of what is available,” he said. “There is a model of Vestas turbine that is 656 feet, that is 6 megawatts for production of electricity. And it’s one of the lowest sound turbines being engineered right now.”
The board voted 3-1 to adopt 665 feet as the new height limit for turbines, with Cole casting the lone “no” vote. Larson didn’t vote.
The discussion then shifted to keeping turbine setbacks at 1,640 feet from nonparticipating habitable structures.
Treasurer Cathy Killinger asked about moving the setback distance to a property line instead of measuring from a residence, saying it “still puts it in my backyard.” The audience erupted into applause at this comment, with “it’s nice to know you guys are doing this for everybody and not just yourself” heard amid the noise.
“That’s enough, no more discussion,” Larson fired back at the audience.
Killinger asked about being able to object to an individual project after the ordinance passes, but O’Meara said she could be considered to have a conflict of interest if she did that.
The board voted on adopting the proposed wind ordinance with a height limit of 665 feet and a setback of 1,640 feet from nonparticipating habitable structures.
Black and Stebbins voted “yes,” while Cole and Killinger voted “no.” Larson’s “yes” vote broke the deadlock. The ordinance was approved 3-2.
Immediately, shouts of “Recall” came from the crowd.
“This is a legal motion,” Larson retorted.
After public comment urged board members to reconsider its decision around measuring setbacks to property lines of nonparticipating residences, Killinger and Cole made a motion to reopen discussions.
However, they weren’t on the prevailing side. As a result, the discussions tailed off, and the meeting adjourned.
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