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Meetings to improve communication - Departmental meetings are aimed at avoiding more controversial public meetings

BELVIDERE — Feelings continue to run hot over how Boone County officials handled the controversial wind farm issue.

But now it’s county officials who are bickering, this time over how a public meeting was handled and how a county staff member was treated. The negative feelings prompted board Chairman Susan Anderson to reinstate monthly meetings to improve communication between department heads.

The recent blowup stems from a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Jan. 24.

State’s Attorney Jim Hursh wrote to the board, recommending it not hold a public hearing on a special-use request asking for a wind testing tower and equipment on land in Poplar Grove Township. Hursh said the request contained an incorrect legal description.

He recommended staff obtain a correct legal description, that a notice be republished and adjacent property owners be notified. Despite that, the hearing went on.

On Monday, ZBA Chair Curt Newport told members of the county’s Administrative and Legislative Committee he misunderstood Hursh’s recommendation and unintentionally erred when he opened a public hearing Jan. 24. The committee eventually tabled the issue for a month and no decision was reached.

Hursh stormed from the County Board meeting room Monday night after the issue was brought before the committee and returned,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
But now it’s county officials who are bickering, this time over how a public meeting was handled and how a county staff member was treated. The negative feelings prompted board Chairman Susan Anderson to reinstate monthly meetings to improve communication between department heads.

The recent blowup stems from a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Jan. 24.

State’s Attorney Jim Hursh wrote to the board, recommending it not hold a public hearing on a special-use request asking for a wind testing tower and equipment on land in Poplar Grove Township. Hursh said the request contained an incorrect legal description.

He recommended staff obtain a correct legal description, that a notice be republished and adjacent property owners be notified. Despite that, the hearing went on.

On Monday, ZBA Chair Curt Newport told members of the county’s Administrative and Legislative Committee he misunderstood Hursh’s recommendation and unintentionally erred when he opened a public hearing Jan. 24. The committee eventually tabled the issue for a month and no decision was reached.

Hursh stormed from the County Board meeting room Monday night after the issue was brought before the committee and returned, still upset, about 15 minutes later.

At the meeting, Hursh was chastised by at least one committee member, Marshall New­house, and a County Board member attending the meeting, Dana LaPier, for calling out a specific employee of another department whom Hursh blamed for supplying bad advice at the ZBA meeting.

City-County Planning Director Adam Tegen said he was on vacation when Hursh confronted one of his employees who was at the ZBA meeting. Tegen declined further comment.

Hursh said Tuesday that things had been resolved.

“Basically, they opened a meeting they shouldn’t have,” said Hursh. He then aimed criticism at himself. “There was no action taken. In my mind, it’s been rectified other than (for) a hotheaded state’s attorney.”

Wallace Ramsay is asking for a special-use permit for a 195-foot wind testing tower and equipment on 40 acres west of Illinois 76 and north of Quail Trap Road.

The county will ask Ramsay to resubmit his request to include the entire parcel, not just 10 acres of it, as was listed in the original proposal. Then, it can proceed through the appropriate channels for approval.

Ramsay, who also heads Boone Heritage Wind Farm LLC, is in a court fight with Boone County over a board decision last year that denied permission to build a 15-turbine wind farm on hundreds of acres near Quail Trap and Ramsay roads in rural Boone County. The issue is due back in court Feb. 22.

Board Chairman Anderson spread the blame for the recent infighting.

“Most of the time, things in this county operate like a well-oiled machine,” Anderson said Tuesday. “But there are times when things break down. This is one of them.

“We have dedicated volunteers on our committees who are laypeople, not attorneys. They strive to do the right thing. And we have a dedicated state’s attorney in Jim Hursh.”

Source: http://www.rrstar.com/apps/...

FEB 8 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1229-meetings-to-improve-communication-departmental-meetings-are-aimed-at-avoiding-more-controversial-public-meetings
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