Library from Illinois
The nine-member panel will be weighing public comments made during Monday night's public hearing in Potomac, which was scheduled by county officials in response to several citizens calling for changes to the county's ordinance, especially increasing the distance a wind turbine can be built from houses and other structures.
While the zoning board voted on findings last week, the wind farm's attorney, Doug Lee, and company officials sat silently. So did opponents. Today, Keith Bolin of Mainstream and Rick Porter, a Rockford attorney representing wind farm opponents, are on the agenda.
A large group with plenty of opinions on both sides of Vermilion County's wind turbine issue turned out Monday night for a public forum. The crowd of both onlookers and speakers filled the expanse of bleachers along the southern wall of the gymnasium at Potomac Grade School. More than 40 speakers - 37 from Vermilion County - signed up to step to the podium.
In a 4-1 vote, with member Bruce Forester dissenting, the board found that Mainstream's petition didn't sufficiently protect neighbors from shadow flicker. And members unanimously ruled that the proposed setbacks weren't enough to mitigate the problem. ...The board also decided to back recommendations from the state Department of Natural Resources to create a 1-mile buffer around the state's Foley Sand Prairie Natural Preserve and a half-mile buffer around other natural areas.
Currently, the county's wind ordinance calls for a setback of 1,200 feet from the primary structure on a property. Nesbitt, at the February committee meeting, asked for a moratorium on the ordinance and suggested the setback be increased to 1,320 feet from any property line and 2,600 feet from any structure.
Wind turbine towers on lots less than one acre can be no taller than the height of the home, plus 10 percent. The tallest allowed is 125 feet, and those only on lots of five acres or more. None can be located in the front yard.
A turbine near their house, Schwartzbach said, was a constant bother. "It produces loud humming sounds. At night it's ubearable. We turn on the TV to drown it out, so we can fall asleep. We don't hear the crickets at night or birds in the morning."
Lee County does not plan to use the rubber stamp this time. Historically, wind energy companies have driven the county's process in reviewing proposed wind farms. ...Since then, local opposition to wind farms has increased. Neighbors complain about noise, vibrations and shadow flicker from turbines. And they say wind farms have reduced the value of their properties.
An interview with Royer for The Courier-News about the meeting that had been set for Monday afternoon was cancelled Monday morning. Carol Gieske, president of the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, said, "It was a closed meeting, so he is unable to discuss what transpired."
Michael Creech had planned to retire at the family homestead, a two-story farmhouse among square miles of farmland east of Hope in western Vermilion County. But he said he's changed his mind ...mostly because of the noise. There are three different noises, a whooshing sound from the blades turning, a droning noise that he compares to a jet engine, and noise from the motors when the turbines change position.
Once upon a time, getting approval for a wind farm in Lee County was relatively simple. Those days are gone. For the latest proposal to build wind turbines, the county had 26 meetings that took up 65 hours.
An "isolated manufacturing issue" caused two wind turbines in East Central Illinois to break last year, the manufacturer of the towers said Monday.
A committee of Vermilion County Board members will discuss this week a moratorium on the construction of any wind farms until the county addresses possible changes to its wind farm ordinance.
For months, the county bizarrely fought against the public's right to have access to that information. All 28 Lee County Board members stayed publicly quiet as this happened. The transcripts were done by a court reporter hired by Mainstream Renewable Power ...The proposed wind farm is controversial. Many neighboring residents don't want it, fearing their property values will decline, among other concerns. They want all the information they can about the project.
"My house won't be worth anything with a wind farm next to it," he said. "There are a lot of people who don't want [the wind turbines] to be our neighbors. If they want to come to our neighborhood, they should buy our neighborhood."
Gamesa USA had planned the Whispering Prairie wind farm for Ogle, Winnebago and Stephenson counties. But in November, the company informed landowners that it was terminating the lease options for wind turbines. The company said it found the wind project wasn't commercially viable.
From numbers acquired from this FOIA request, it was determined there is an accumulated five-year loss of more than $130,000. At the end of 10 years, when the last of the turbine's loan payments are scheduled to be made, the district can be projected to have a deficit of more than $260,000 if the expenses or repairs don't go up. In the most recent year alone, the annual insurance and maintenance expenses have risen more than $2,000.
Is the Bureau Valley wind turbine an asset or liability? The Bureau Valley District 340 Board of Education heard a report on the turbine's performance at a recent meeting.
Under questioning from attorney Rick Porter, who is representing residents fighting the wind farm, Shank confirmed he was aware that Mainstream was planning to take no measures to mitigate the harm to the ornate box turtle and the plains hognose snake.
Margina Schwartzbach says there was a reason she never objected beforehand to a planned wind turbine next to her home: No one told her about it. The West Brooklyn woman says she found out about it when the project started - more than a year after the county approved it.