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Wind ordinance to be discussed at public hearing Wednesday

MONMOUTH - All citizens of Warren County are invited to attend a public hearing set to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, in the boardroom at the Warren County Courthouse.

During the hearing, the planning commission/zoning board of appeals of Warren County will consider amendments to the county's zoning code, for the purpose of permitting and regulating the construction of large wind energy systems in agricultural and industrial zoning districts and small wind energy systems in all zoning districts.

The amendments address Green Light Energy's efforts to build a wind farm in the Alexis area of northern Warren County and in southern Mercer County. Based in Virginia, Green Light is a national developer of wind farms.

"Wind systems are so new we don't have anything in our zoning ordinance that addresses this type of electrical generation," said Ron Moore, chairman of the county's planning commission/zoning board of appeals. "There are counties in Illinois that have wind energy systems. Those are Bureau, Henry, Lee, McLean, and Mercer. McLean County, I believe, is going to be producing the largest wind energy system in the state, if not the Midwest. I think that's somewhere around a $300 million project."

Last summer, after an informational meeting Green Light conducted in Alexis, Warren/Henderson Farm Bureau and Jolene Willis, executive director of the Western... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
During the hearing, the planning commission/zoning board of appeals of Warren County will consider amendments to the county's zoning code, for the purpose of permitting and regulating the construction of large wind energy systems in agricultural and industrial zoning districts and small wind energy systems in all zoning districts.

The amendments address Green Light Energy's efforts to build a wind farm in the Alexis area of northern Warren County and in southern Mercer County. Based in Virginia, Green Light is a national developer of wind farms.

"Wind systems are so new we don't have anything in our zoning ordinance that addresses this type of electrical generation," said Ron Moore, chairman of the county's planning commission/zoning board of appeals. "There are counties in Illinois that have wind energy systems. Those are Bureau, Henry, Lee, McLean, and Mercer. McLean County, I believe, is going to be producing the largest wind energy system in the state, if not the Midwest. I think that's somewhere around a $300 million project."

Last summer, after an informational meeting Green Light conducted in Alexis, Warren/Henderson Farm Bureau and Jolene Willis, executive director of the Western Illinois Economic Development Partnership, arranged a bus tour of Paw Paw area in Lee County, where 45 to 50 wind energy towers are located.

"Since we did not have any basis for developing a wind ordinance, we're looking at what other counties have done," Moore said. "We've got sample ordinances from all those counties and our committee went through and compared what each county had already done, to see if they were consistent, and then we discussed our issues and remodified our ordinance a little bit."

Moore said key points of the proposed ordinance being considered are definitions, setbacks (1,000 feet from a residence on an adjoining property), height requirements, financial assurances and decommissioning requirements.

"This public hearing is a way for neighboring landowners to have input into what the developer is wanting to do," Moore said. "Green Light has been very willing to be accommodating to the neighbors that we've talked to."

Moore noted that the ordinance does not dictate how property will be assessed.

"Currently there's legislation in Springfield for a statewide assessment to assess these large scale wind farms," he said. "The property owner that has the lease is responsible for the tax bill and the improvements. The way we understand it the developer is willing to pay for the increase in the property tax based on the wind tower addition and the improvement of the wind tower on that property...There are other agreements that have yet to be developed and negotiated. We're still in the very infancy of this whole system."

Moore said the planning commission's goal was "to not have the zoning ordinance be a detriment to the development of this wind energy system."

"We've been working since September, meeting monthly trying to gather information and make a proposal to the county board," Moore added. "I think this proposal is going to go forward and I think it's a good thing for our county."

Upon approval by the zoning board, the ordinance will be presented to the Warren County Board for review and approval in April.

"This is a change from our normal process," Moore noted. "Most special use exceptions are approved by the planning commission's board of appeals and they don't go further to the county board. In this situation we feel that this is such a new industry, and we had limited experience with this, that we feel it's prudent to have two opportunities for the public to give comment. And so the county board will give their final approval on this."

The proposed zoning amendments are available for examination at the Warren County Clerk's Office and the Warren County Zoning Office, 100 W. Broadway, during regular business hours.


Source: http://www.reviewatlas.com/...

MAR 21 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1784-wind-ordinance-to-be-discussed-at-public-hearing-wednesday
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