Wind-energy opponent urges changes

January 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

PAXTON — An opponent of the wind-energy industry urged the Ford County Board to revise the county’s ordinance regulating wind farms Monday, calling the existing requirements “lax” and “solely for the benefit of wind companies.”

Ann Ihrke, a rural Buckley resident, has asked Ford County officials repeatedly to strengthen the county’s wind ordinance to protect property owners not leasing land to wind farm operators. She says the ordinance’s setback requirement of 1,000 feet — the distance a turbine must be from homes and other structures — is not adequate and subjects residents to noise, shadow flicker and property devaluation.

Ihrke urged the board to change its ordinance to reflect the regulations in neighboring Iroquois County, which  changed its ordinance last year so that turbines must be built no closer to homes than 12 times a turbine’s rotar diameter — a distance of nearly 4,000 feet or more.

Ihrke distributed Iroquois County’s wind ordinance to Ford County Board members, plus a letter from a school district superintendent in Vermilion County who has noticed issues with a wind farm in that county.

“It’s no mystery that very few persons show up for the zoning committee hearings for proposed wind industrial parks (in Ford County),” Ihrke said. “By the time these hearings occur, the wind companies have already met all the requirements of the Ford County wind ordinance, and therefore any objections at this point are moot. If this board does not revise the current ordinance, any wind company coming into our county will be approved (for a permit), as the requirements are so lax. The present Ford County ordinance is a copy of an ordinance drawn up solely for the benefit of wind companies.

“The board is here to serve and protect all of its residents, not to pick and choose which ones they will favor. I urge you again to revisit your ordinance and beef it up so it protects every citizen of Ford County. You have been presented with a good example of an ordinance that does just that. There are many more rewritten or updated ordinances available — revised because these counties and communities have educated themselves and listened to the voices of those affected. They now realize how destructive these turbines are to people, and how they are raising the cost of energy to all of us, many of whom have already been hurt so much by this dismal economy.”

The board did not discuss the possibility of revising the ordinance Monday night.

Other business
Also at Monday’s meeting:

— The board voted unanimously to authorize Chairman Rick Bowen to appoint members to an eight-member board of  health for the to-be-created Ford County Public Health Department. Bowen said he expects to appoint the board of health this month.  He also plans to post an advertisement this week seeking candidates for a public health administrator and environmental health coordinator for the new agency. He said he hopes hiring can be done by March.

— Chief Probation Officer Cassy Taylor said she is working with the Prairie Center in Urbana to “work out revisions to drug court” in Ford County. There are seven clients in drug court, she said, with one expected to graduate soon.

— The renovation of the main courtroom at the courthouse is complete, Taylor said. Sheriff Mark Doran said it “looks great.”

— Jury trials were delayed until Jan. 21 due to a lack of an available judge, Circuit Clerk Kim Evans said.

— The renovation of the front entrance to the courthouse was to begin Tuesday, Doran said.

— Taylor said an unpaid intern is working for the probation department. The intern is a senior at Eastern Illinois University.

— The board approved contracts between the sheriff’s office and the villages of Melvin, Elliott, Piper City and Sibley, requiring the sheriff’s office to provide law enforcement services in those towns in return for the villages’ payment of a fee. The one-year contracts require fees of $7,700 from Elliott, $8,948 from Sibley, $10,646 from Melvin and $10,313 from Piper City.

— The board approved a contract for alarm system services with First National Bank Plaza in Paxton, Farmers-Merchants National Bank of Melvin and Paxton and First National Bank of Paxton.

— County Highway Engineer Greg Perkinson said in his written report that bridge replacements were completed in Dix and Brenton townships.

— Perkinson said bid letting for township motor-fuel tax projects will be held Feb. 26.

— Doran said he has hired a new correctional officer, Cameron Garney, who is replacing Thomas Henry. He is also working to fill road deputy positions.

— Doran said the sheriff’s office provided mattresses and blankets at the Paxton Emergency Response Service building when the building was used as a warming shelter during the recent winter storms.

— Doran said a generator is not working properly and it would cost $28,733 to replace it. The issue will be discussed at a later date.

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