Boone County

Hartke and other Illinoisans testify at Illinois Senate Hearing

Springfield, IL. (ECWd) –

Today, an Illinois Ag Committee Senate hearing was held at 9:30 AM.
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The hearing was for HB 3523 which is a “wind energy agriculture mitigation agreement” legislation.  This hearing was presided by Senator John Sullivan, a Democrat from Rushville, Illinois who is the Chief Sponsor co-sponsored of HB 3523.  His district includes Adams County, which does not have county zoning.  He said he developed the bill with the concurrence of the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Wind Industry who support the bill.  During the hearing, several Vermilion County citizens requested a small change to the language to clarify what they felt is a mis-interpreted part of ILCS 55-5/5/12020 section.
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One noteworthy part of the hearing was when Senator Sullivan asked Ted Hartke a few questions.  Hartke is a Vermilion County resident who abandoned his home 2 years ago due to nighttime wind turbine noise which caused his family’s sleep deprivation.  Hartke provided a handout to all Senators which showed photos of turbines “looming” over backyard play equipment and all of the beds situated in his living room where they tried to sleep to escape the noise before finally giving up and abandoning the home in December, 2013.  Sullivan’s questions to Hartke sometimes seemed like “leading questions.”  A “leading question” is when the person who is asking the question is making sure that certain information is provided so that it becomes part of the record.
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At one point, when Senator Sullivan was explaining how the new ag mitigation legislation will not affect a county’s ability to establish their own wind turbine siting rules, Mr. Hartke surprised many in the audience by asking the Senator to repeat/clarify what he had just said, so that he could bring the message back to Bill Donahue, the Vermilion County Assistant State’s Attorney who declared that lack of zoning hinders Vermilion County Board’s ability to protect citizens from noise, flicker, and property value loss from wind turbines.  Normally a person giving testimony does NOT ask questions or ask for clarification from the presiding officer!
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Senator Sullivan was extremely cordial and re-affirmed that all counties using the existing laws had the authority to regulate wind farms with or without any zoning in place.  He did explain he was not a lawyer and any confusion in the interpretation of the law would have to be settled by the courts.  The next presenter was John Gebhardt, from Quincy, Illinois.  Gebhardt is a spokesperson for the Advocates for Responsible Energy Development, a group that formed when Adams County was being considered for Wind Development over 5 years ago.  Gebhardt explained that in Adams County, after the County Board developed the Wind Regulations, his group along with the Wind Companies and those pro and con approached the smaller towns who were going to be affected by an impending wind development.  After having public hearings, three of those towns exercised their rights to a mile and a half buffer around their towns.  Later, the wind company chose to go elsewhere for the time being.  Gebhardt showed a Wind Regulation that was developed by the Adams County Board that would be null and void, if Vermillion County’s situation would result in them not being allowed to implement a similar regulation.
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He explained additionally, that one of the towns, Golden, did not have zoning and were threatened with a lawsuit, because they were told the same thing.  But the State’s Attorney interpreted the law that they did, so they implemented the ban.  Thus far they have not been taken to court, which would be a tragedy, as they do not have the funds to take it to court.  He mentioned they tried with SB 167, sponsored by Sen. Sullivan to correct the language in the original legislation.  It passed the Senate, but died in the House Committee – even though the original sponsor of the Legislation said he intended in the original legislation that counties and municipalities would have that right.  This is why Gebhardt wanted to have these words added to this bill “with or without zoning” in the laws that govern both the County and the Municipalities.  (These small towns do not have the adequate resources to fight a billion dollar company, and would likely fold under the weight of high-power energy company attorneys.)
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He also provide photos of Wind Turbines on the outskirts of Shabbona, IL and other places and asked, would you want to live in or move to these locations.  The next speaker was Lynn McClendon, from Danville, Illinois. McClendon spoke of the problems experienced with wayward attorney Bill Donahue who circumvented all attempts to protect citizens in Vermilion County from wind turbine placement.  McClendon requested that HB3523 include a clarification that would remove the barrier set by Donahue which caused “paralysis” of his Vermilion County decision makers.  McClenden referred to a document from the State of Illinois Legislative Reference Bureau, and Senator Sullivan asked to see a copy of the “LRB” findings.
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The LRB report states, “IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT “ZONING BE IN PLACE” TO ENACT ORDINANCES CONCERNING ZONING.“. (Read it here) This coincided with Senator Sullivan’s statements to Ted Hartke.Next up was Vince Koers, also from Danville.  Koers stated that this change needed to happen now, that it was an emergency situation in Vermilion County where InvEnergy is planning to build an expansion onto an existing wind farm.  He asked that the senators amend HB 3523 instead of waiting for the next bill to come around so it is not “too late” for more areas in Vermilion County.
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The discussion of the meeting went long, and by the time the next 2 presenters finished, all of the Senators had left the room to attend other committee meetings/hearings.  Sen Sullivan remained to the end and before leaving he shook hands and thanked every single citizen who had traveled all the way to Springfield, some as far as 3 hours away, to voice their concerns about the problems wind turbines are causing in various parts of Illinois.  There was at least one member of the audience who was unable to testify due to the shortage of time as Sen Sullivan was extremely late for his next meeting.  There were possibly a dozen or so witness slips which were not read while the public was in the meeting room.  We do not know if those witness slips were considered by the committee.
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Sullivan-Barickman (WinCE)

6 replies »

  1. What is not said in your article is that the Senate committee ignored all of the witness’ testimony and went ahead and approved HB3523 without any amendments as sought by those testifying. Does anyone really think that the wind industry would support legislation that in any way curtails their intrusion on the lives of rural citizens? Wake up Illinois! Wake up Watchdogs! We are being taken to the cleaners right under our very noses.

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