Village officials think proposed wind-farm rule changes may be inadequate

ROBERTS — Officials in this central Ford County village think the proposed changes to the county’s ordinance regulating wind farms may be inadequate to protect rural landowners.

The village board voted unanimously during its Oct. 1 meeting to send a resolution to the Ford County Board stating that the village “opposes anything less” than the limitations proposed.

The resolution goes on to say that the village does not support the proposed changes as written, urging that the county adopt even greater restrictions instead.

“There are a number of questions to be answered concerning visual intrusion, noise levels, effects on wildlife and other animals, safety of citizens, television reception (and) decommissioning costs,” the resolution noted.

The proposed changes being considered by the county’s zoning board of appeals — as drafted by the county board’s zoning committee — include measures to allow turbines as tall as 650 feet and to increase the existing 1,000-foot setback between wind turbines and “primary structures” — such as homes — to 2,250 feet, or four times a turbine’s tip height, whichever is greater.

However, Roberts officials want the county to instead approve a 3,250-foot setback between turbines and property lines — instead of homes — and limit a turbine’s tip height to 500 feet, the same height as currently allowed.

All village board members voted in favor of the resolution except for Sharon King, who was absent due to illness.

The village has already established a zoning perimeter of 1.5 miles around the town’s corporate limits to regulate the construction of wind turbines in that specific area.

At least one wind-farm developer is eyeing the Roberts area for a wind farm. Pattern Development has been signing up landowners for its proposed Heritage Prairie Wind Farm in the Roberts and Piper City area.

The zoning board of appeals heard hours of public comments on the proposed wind-farm rule revisions during a public hearing on Oct. 3. The zoning board took no action, opting to continue the hearing to another date. Once the zoning board votes on the revisions, the county board will take its own vote.

Wind-energy development firms are asking for a 1,500-foot setback from primary structures, or three times a turbine’s tip height, whichever is greater. Some have said the proposed 2,250-foot setback would be too restrictive for owners of small parcels of land to lease their property for use by a wind farm, and such a setback would also not guarantee “better safety” of the non-participating residents.

Some rural residents, meanwhile, are pushing for a 3,250-foot setback instead — and from property lines, not homes. They say anything less than that distance could leave them at risk of the adverse health effects from the noise and shadow flicker wind turbines can create, as well as prevent them from using all of their land without fear of ice throws or blade throws from failed turbines.

Other business
Also at the village board’s Oct. 1 meeting:

➜ Halloween trick-or-treating hours were set for 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31.

➜ Village Board President Rick Flessner said he spoke with Billy Sherfey for his advice on what to do with the books at the public library, which the board voted last month to close permanently.

➜ Water department employee Paul Theesfield said 679,500 gallons of water were pumped in the village in the previous month.

➜ Maintenance department employee David Fuoss said mowing of village property was ongoing.

➜ Ordinance enforcement officer Stan Daro said junk has been present in yards on North Locust Street and West Green Street.

➜ The board learned that village officials continue to meet with Ameren Illinois staff, who would like David Boundy to be an associate contractor or ally.

➜ The board learned that a letter had been received from Ricky Ricketts’ attorney regarding drainage issues on his property on East Green Street.

Location (3):Local, Ford County, Roberts

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