MORRISON – The Whiteside County Board on Tuesday rejected a proposal that aimed to help incorporated towns regulate wind farms.
The vote appears to have ended the board’s review of the county’s wind regulations. Since the summer, the board’s Public Works Committee held a few meetings to look at the county’s rules.
With the process finished, Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power is expected to turn in its application for wind turbines near Deer Grove by month’s end.
The wind farm also would be in Lee and Bureau counties. Most of the turbines are planned for Lee County, with only a small fraction in Whiteside County, the company says.
By a 20-7 vote, the board rejected a proposed policy that wind farm developers come to an agreement with unzoned, incorporated towns for the siting of wind towers within 1.5 miles of the towns’ boundaries.
Under the policy, the county would have honored the agreements as part of the special-use permitting process.
Member Jim Duffy, D-Sterling, introduced the proposal last month. At the time, it would have applied to Deer Grove and Coleta. Since, Deer Grove, population 48, enacted a zoning ordinance. Some officials believed that step was needed before the village could regulate turbines outside its limits.
Now, Coleta, population 164, is the only unzoned, incorporated town in the county. Its village president, Sally Douglas, says her board hasn’t discussed the wind issue.
Duffy said he introduced the proposal because he wanted all communities to have the same protection, whether they have zoning ordinances or not.
“This [policy] has the same effect as a zoning ordinance,” he said.
However, member Glenn Truesdell, D-Rock Falls, said the policy was unnecessary.
“It’s bad government to pass a resolution aimed to protect a small group of people,” he said.
Truesdell said Coleta had the right to pass a zoning ordinance.
“This isn’t a proposition the county needs to be involved in,” he said.
Board Chairman Tony Arduini called for the proposal’s defeat.
He got what he wanted. Just seven members supported the policy – Duffy; Kurt Glazier, R-Sterling; Karen Nelson, D-Rock Falls; Roger Schipper, R-Morrison; Bud Thompson, R-Prophetstown; Jon Hinton, R-Prophetstown; and Doug Wetzell, R-Deer Grove.
In its review, the Public Works Committee only recommended one change to the county’s wind regulations, increasing the required distance between homes and turbines from 1,400 feet to 1,600 feet.
But the Executive Committee voted against the increase. The full board never voted on the setback issue.
How they voted
Here’s how the Whiteside County Board members voted on a proposal to require wind farm developers to come to an agreement with unzoned, incorporated towns for the siting of wind towers within 1.5 miles of their boundaries:
Dick Cox, R-Sterling
Jim Arduini, D-Sterling
Bill McGinn, D-Sterling
Sarah McNeill, D-Sterling
Tom Ausman, D-Sterling
Ruth Stanley, R-Sterling
Bob VanDeVelde, D-Sterling
Tony Arduni, D-Rock Falls
Bill Milby, D-Rock Falls
John Espinoza, D-Rock Falls
Eugene Jacoby, D-Rock Falls
Robert McKanna, D-Rock Falls
Glenn Truesdell, D-Rock Falls
Paul Cunniff, D-Rock Falls
Bill Abbot, R-Fulton
Sue Britt, D-Morrison
Glenn Frank, R-Morrison
Ken Roeder, D-Fulton
Steve Wilkins, D-Morrison
Mark Hamilton, R-Fulton
Jim Duffy, D-Sterling
Kurt Glazier, R-Sterling
Karen Nelson, D-Rock Falls
Roger Schipper, R-Morrison
Bud Thompson, R-Prophetstown
Jon Hinton, R-Prophetstown
Doug Wetzell, R-Deer Grove