DIXON – The chairman of the Lee County Board still supports a proposed wind farm, but he is pushing a compromise that would include strong conditions on the project.
Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy, said he and others are working on the conditions. He provided few details.
Last month, the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals voted 3-2 to reject Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power’s proposed wind farm for the county’s southwestern corner.
In rejecting the 53 turbines, the zoning board majority contended the project would hurt the rural character of the area. They also said the company failed to reveal the turbine model it planned to use, which would have an effect on the project’s noise. It also lacked a plan for taking down the turbines after the project ends.
The 24-member County Board, which has the final say, is expected to vote on the matter Tuesday.
A day after the zoning board’s decision last month, Ketchum said he would vote to overrule the lower panel’s recommendation.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Ketchum said the county’s wind farm regulations weren’t strong enough, which he said prompted the effort to impose conditions on the Mainstream project.
He wouldn’t say who he was working with in drafting the conditions, but he said Mainstream wasn’t involved.
One of the conditions would involve a longer setback than the usual 1,400 feet between homes and turbines, he said, but he wouldn’t say exactly how far.
“The conditions won’t be totally mine,” he said. “We want conditions that are strong, but not enough to stop the project. We think the conditions are fair, but the wind farm [company] may not like them.”
He predicted a close vote.
For a story last month, most County Board members interviewed declined to state their views on the wind farm.
Ketchum, Marvin Williams, R-Dixon, and Ann Taylor, R-Amboy, favored the wind farm, while David Gusse, R-Dixon, Judy Truckenbrod, R-West Brooklyn, and Marilyn Shippert, R-Dixon, were against it.
After the story appeared, Vern Gottel, R-rural Sterling, revealed that he would vote against the project.
“A 40-story industrial structure four blocks away from a person’s home, in my opinion, is going to create an impact on that home,” he said. “I’ve been there [on wind farms]. I’ve seen them. I’ve listened. If you’re not a fan of them, they’ll impact your life.”
Supporters of wind farms say they dramatically boost property tax revenue for government entities such as schools.
“There are those who think the tax levy is everything,” Gottel said. “I think it’s about people’s lives.”
Mainstream’s proposal is part of a three-county wind farm, which includes Whiteside and Bureau counties. Last year, Whiteside County approved nine turbines, while Bureau County’s zoning panel recommended against Mainstream’s plan for 19 turbines, saying it didn’t meet the county’s requirements.
Mainstream withdrew its proposal in Bureau County, saying it planned to submit a new plan.
How they'll vote
How do Lee County Board members plan to vote on Mainstream Renewable Power's proposed wind farm?
Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy
Ann Taylor, R-Amboy
Marvin Williams, R-Dixon
David Gusse, R-Dixon
Marilyn Shippert, R-Dixon
Judy Truckenbrod, R-West Brooklyn
Vern Gottel, R-rural Sterling
Dick Binder, R-Compton
Bernie Buckley, R-Dixon
Tim Deem, R-Dixon
Bob Gibler, R-Dixon
Steve Kitzman, R-Dixon
Gerald Leffelman, R-Sublette
Isaac Mercer, R-Dixon
Wes Morrissey, D-Amboy
John Nicholson, R-Franklin Grove
Bill Palen, R-Dixon
Didn't return calls for comment
Allyn Buhrow, R-Ashton
Kasey Considine, R-Amboy
Tom Kitson, R-Dixon
Arlan McClain, R-Dixon
Jim Wentling, R-Dixon
Greg Witzleb, R-Dixon
NOTE: The County Board has 24 members. One position was left vacant with the recent resignation of David Chandler, R-Dixon.
The Lee County Board will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday on the third floor of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St. in Dixon.
The board is expected to consider a wind farm in the southwestern part of the county.
For an agenda for this meeting, minutes from past meetings, or more information, go to www.countyoflee.org or call 815-288-5676.