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Adjoining landowners kept in loop?

Are residents notified if they live in areas where wind energy companies propose turbines?

At a recent meeting of the Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals, West Brooklyn resident Margina Schwartzbach said she didn’t know turbines were going up next to her property until construction started in October 2011.

That surprised me. One of the principles of zoning, I thought, was to notify adjoining landowners of proposals for rezoning and variances.

State law requires 15 days’ notice to adjoining landowners before hearings to consider zoning changes. Lee and Whiteside counties take the extra step of sending certified letters.

Earlier this year, Lee County’s zoning board proposed an ordinance that included a provision to require notification of all property owners within a half mile of turbines. However, the County Board, for a variety of reasons, rejected that ordinance.

Lee County Zoning Administrator Chris Henkel said the county approved the wind farm near Schwartzbach’s home 5 years ago. He said he would look through his files to see whether she was sent a notice.

I couldn’t reach Schartzbach for further comment after the meeting.

She and her husband have lived in their West Brooklyn home for a dozen years, so they would have been there if a certified letter had been sent.

If they received no notice and they are adjoining landowners, their frustration is understandable.

A modesty streak in government

Is modesty a trait usually associated with government?

It sure doesn’t seem like it. When government finishes a new building, road or bridge, every politician in sight shows up for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, eager to take credit.

Morrison, however, appears to operate in a different political universe.

The other day, the City Council approved construction costs to extend a bike path to Rockwood State Park.

The project will cost $256,000, with the state paying for 80 percent and the city the rest.

City Administrator Jim Wise told the City Council that two government agencies would help with the project anonymously.

I found that interesting, so I asked him about it later.

Wise said the two agencies will donate labor and materials, dealing with such issues as erosion control and brush removal.

He said the agencies don’t want to make a big issue of their help.

“They said, ‘We’re more than happy to assist, but don’t expect any publicity or accolades,’” he said.

Of course, Morrison should be excited to receive help for a project. But I can’t help but wonder how taxpayer-funded government agencies can make anonymous donations.

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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