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GCC wind ordinance statement
Posted By Brandon Reid On October 14, 2009 @ 12:00 am In Online Exclusives | No Comments
Oct. 7, 2009, e-mail bulletin sent to all Green Communities Coalition members and environmental organizations
[Comments in brackets and italics are editorial comments of The Rock River Times.]
This action is needed, today, tonight or tomorrow in contacting your county board representative.
Please attend the county board meeting Thursday night at 6 p.m. to show your support.
Director of Communications
Green Communities Coalition
Subject: ALERT—last minute changes to county wind ordinance
Hello, Friends of the Environment,
I am contacting you to alert you of a critical situation. Navitas, Inc., the company that has proposed building a wind-generating facility in western Winnebago County has requested last-minute changes to the draft Winnebago County wind ordinance, which they wrote originally, and has gone through numerous amendments and additions over the last several months. County planning staff and the zoning committee have taken input from the public on several areas of concern, especially negative impacts to natural areas, natural resources and wildlife. The most recent version of the ordinance included minimal, and rather vague, provisions for environmental assessments and avoidance of bird migration paths. It was nothing compared to what is recommended by the National Wind Energy Association guidelines, but it was in there.
I learned yesterday from Zoning Committee Chairman Paul Gorski (in response to a letter sent to the County by the Four Rivers Environmental Coalition advocating careful and responsible criteria for wind facility construction) that Navitas has requested that the following be REMOVED from the ordinance:
1) Natural Resource Information (NRI) studies [which is now reportedly back in] reviewed by the Soil and Water Conservation district [which is now reportedly out because logically that would give the Soil and Water Conservation District final say over the county board].
2) Wildlife/Avian Survey and Mitigation plans based on NRI evaluations [status unknown].
3) Bird and Bat Migration Studies [status unknown].
This is the first (and perhaps final) test of the Natural Resource Inventory and the 2030 Comprehensive Plan. If this change were to pass, it would defeat the intent of both plans to safeguard the county’s green infrastructure and protect our natural resources from negative impacts of industrial development. If the county board sells out on the above meager provisions for natural resource protection in the adoption of this ordinance, the Greenways Plan, the NRI and the Comprehensive Plan will be viewed as dispensable in all future land planning decisions.
I urge you to contact your county board representative and ask that they vote to keep the provisions for environmental reviews and accountability in the wind ordinance. In fact, they should strengthen environmental surveying and monitoring requirements to be in compliance with their own industry’s guidelines and requests from conservation agencies such as the Natural Land Institute, Four Rivers Environmental Coalition and Operation Migration. A number of national organizations such as Audubon and Sierra Club, have issued public statements recognizing the value of wind energy as an environmental solution, but emphasizing the imperative of thorough scientific assessment and planning to avoid turbines causing more environmental problems than they solve.
The Wind Ordinance is on the agenda for a vote at the County Board meeting tomorrow (Thursday) night at 6 p.m. in the County Board Room in the Courthouse at 400 W. State St. Everyone who is concerned about this issue should attend the meeting.
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