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Zoning board ruled on the evidence; so should county

Testimony and studies should not be ignored

Published: Saturday, May 4, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

The Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals made a courageous, well-founded decision to recommend denial of Green River Wind Farm’s petition for special use permit on 5,491.3 acres of Lee County prime and nearly prime farmland in the heart of an identified environmental corridor.

An honest person’s search of 3,341 transcript pages covering 27 sessions of public hearings, and anyone familiar with the 125 exhibits entered as evidence, referenced in the findings of fact, could draw no other conclusion.

If approved, the wind farm would deliver turbine impacts to 196 non-participating residences and only 23 participants. Objector petitions representing more than 170 project area landowners and 13,000 acres were filed against this project. 

Exhibit 79 alone delivered more than 20 expert studies describing ill effects of turbines on human health. Exhibit 1, the petition, acknowledges nine specific requirements of Lee County’s ordinance would be met before or during the hearing. It is well documented that numerous requirements were not met. 

Exhibits reflect, from the beginning, wind farms in Lee County have been given a pass on county-required LESA scoring used to deny building permits for family homes on prime farmland. The code says “all” special use permits on Ag-1 property require a LESA score. Some draw close associations between wind farms and agriculture, not knowing statutes require agricultural permits to be issued free of charge.

Exhibit 67 drew the ZBA’s attention to 415 ILCS 5/23-25 defining and prohibiting noise pollution beyond property lines, while the petitioner insisted on measuring sound impacts at residence foundations. In 415, the Illinois General Assembly incorporated its findings that excessive noise endangers physical and emotional health and well-being, depresses property values, creates public nuisances, and reduces quality of life.

The statutory purpose of zoning is to protect people from uses threatening all of the above. County board bullies with personal agendas, go ahead, attack the decision recommended by the ZBA. But first, please, examine a few transcripts of cross examination, and the exhibits not offered by the petitioner, and remember why you have a ZBA.

Take a look at the touted economic benefits to the county that fail to mention the taxpayer-subsidized cost of wind energy jobs at between $1 million and $8 million each. Take a look at the long-term burden of tax costs shifted to Lee County’s property owners when depreciable turbines lose their assessed value. Guess who makes up the difference. We do.

You’ve accepted without question recommendations to approve and place turbines where you had not been given authority to site them. What’s different now?

This recommendation, at least, agrees with the weight of the evidence presented.

Where were you when it was being presented? You’d certainly have a better understanding if you had been there.

To those county board members offended by a recent reference to Rita Crundwell, I fear she did not have a corner on the market of taxpayer abuse, and I assume they didn’t let her take her share with her.

Note to readers – Bob Logan is the former village president of Franklin Grove.

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