By Rich Boris
Village of Lee President (Mayor)
This is intended to serve as a form of mutual aid to citizens, farmers and governmental units based on experience and knowledge gained related to wind turbines proposals, ordinances and special conditions.
I began my wind energy education by a tour to a multiple wind turbine site; after that, my wife and I were ok with wind turbines. However, after agreeing to run for election it was prudent to look beneath the surface, and more and more wind turbine-related questions arose that did not have satisfactory answers.
How can Illinois and our nation continue to provide UNPRECEDENTED massive subsidies to a PART-TIME energy source like wind? For decades in Illinois, unlike almost all other states, we have invested in nuclear power, which operates 24/7.
Why should we subsidize or pay higher electrical rates for inefficient wind energy here in Illinois, which will likely also cause our economy to further decline? Is it time to take off the green glasses that we are being conditioned to always wear, so we approve anything that is even called “green”? Decades ago, such glasses were called rose-colored glasses!
The Village of Lee Trustees in August of 2009 voted unanimously not to allow six wind turbines within the 1.5-mile extension of its village boundaries.
In about two weeks, the wind company filed a lawsuit against the village (2010 population of 337). Two months later, the lawsuit was withdrawn, after the Village had accrued significant legal costs. The lawsuit was and is a clear message to farmers; other contract signers, counties, municipalities and state officials that wind turbine companies may play hardball to get whatever they want.
The setback areas around wind turbines are future economic development dead-zones because neither businesses nor residences can or will want to build near them. Because of noise and other effects of the wind turbines, even beyond the setback area, the premise arises that property owners of nearby existing structures will minimize their investment in future improvements and maintenance and blight may result.
At a DeKalb County hearing, I testified that the setback from a municipal boundary should be 1.5 miles plus the agreed-upon setback distance. I added that if the setback distance is allowed to protrude into the 1.5-mile extension, that would preclude future development in that area. There has been support from medical and other sources to extend the recommended setback to 2 kilometers or 1.25 miles instead of the 1,400-foot setback from foundation walls that was used in DeKalb and Lee counties.
If there were an extension of a required or desired turbine setback, that would expand the future economic development dead-zones considerably. If municipalities allow industrial wind turbines into the 1.5-mile extension of their boundaries, how would they say no to additional wind turbines? If more turbines were constructed in that 1.5-mile extension around a municipality, would that create an approximately 400-foot fence around the municipality? Could you sell your home in such a community? Would a predictable result then be the decline of that municipality, its property values (EAV), and the property tax revenue for all taxing bodies?
Setbacks should be from property lines, not foundation walls of adjacent landowners. If the required setback protrudes into the property of another landowner, that decrease the potential future use and value of the land.
Wind turbine contracts have confidentially clauses, which I understand can significantly limit what a contract signer can communicate to outside people; this likely results in the suppression of non-positive information about wind turbines to governmental decision makers, farmers and other citizens. Don’t sign your free speech away. Think, study and stand up for yourselves!
If you sit on your thumbs and don’t do your homework, will you symbolically become another case of turbine “bird-kill”?
Rich Boris is the president of the Village of Lee.Village of Lee was incorporated Nov. 4, 1874, in the counties of DeKalb and Lee. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
From the June 29-July 5, 2011 issue