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Boone County: Wind turbines affect lifestyles of rural residents
By Randy Williams
This letter is intended to share some of the thoughts of a fourth-generation Boone County farmer in regards to the intention of the County to allow, and some neighbors to promote, wind turbines to be built in Northern Boone County.
It is important to recognize that the residents of this rural area have chosen to live in this rural area – to make their livings and to enjoy their lives – because of the residential and agricultural zoning that allows them separation from densely populated and designated industrial areas. The reason that designated industrial areas exist is to protect residential and agricultural areas from the byproducts associated with heavy industry, such as excessive sound, light, stray voltage, heavy traffic, and so on.
In bringing wind turbines to Boone County, some are essentially trying to disguise heavy industry as farming. Some have even had the audacity to call their decision to financially benefit from the wind turbines as “freedom to farm.” It would appear, in fact, that they are looking for freedom to have industry.
It seems to be not too far of a stretch to say that, if we have industrial turbines, why can’t we bring in some other industry? Maybe a big factory, like Motorola*, where they could make some electronics? If we call it an electronics farm, probably some industrious individuals could then say that qualified also as freedom to farm.
Someone else said, in the newspaper, “this could be Northern Boone County’s Chrysler.” Could it be that Northern Boone County does not need, nor does it want, a Chrysler? Aside from the logistical and financial untruths of this statement, the residents living in Northern Boone County have chosen to live in this rural environment because they enjoy the lifestyle offered here. If they wanted to live in the shadow of such a mecca of industry, they would live there.
So why, then, have some farmers agreed to the preposterous contract allowing wind turbines onto their property? One sentiment that could explain some of these behaviors is this: at a meeting last fall, someone said to the County Board “if you don’t give us these wind turbines, what are you going to do for us?” It seems to me that as a farmer, you are responsible for making a living by farming, not looking to the county to help you find a way to find subsidies, not demanding that the county allow you to benefit at the detriment of the health, financial well-being, and general lifestyles of your neighbors.
Last week, I drove to Spring Valley for some unrelated business which took me right past hundreds of windmills. It was interesting that on a nice, clear, breezy day, no wind turbines were turning, not one. I liken the wind turbines directly to Motorola, the story of the huge factory in Harvard being known only too well in this area, because of the similarity between the exciting promises made in building them, and the disappointing reality of both scenarios. I sadly wonder how much money was being made for those “farmers” from that day’s harvest,” just as I cringe at the supposed prosperity offered by the Motorola company for the communities in McHenry County.
It is my hope that members of the County Board will carefully consider the facts in making their decisions regarding the proposed zoning amendment and not be swayed by the unlikely promises or desperate pleas offered by wind turbine advocates.
Poplar Grove, Ill.
Editor’s note: Mr. Williams is a fourth-generation farmer in Boone County. This letter originally appeared in the Boone County Journal March 29, 2013 and is reprinted by permission of the author.
From the April 23-29, 2014 issue