BOONE CO. (ECWd) -
Last night, the Boone County Board "kicked the can down the road" on a text amendment put forth to protect its citizens from poorly regulated wind turbine installations. Boone County board members nearly passed a zoning text amendment which would have avoided the chance that a 495' tall wind turbines to be constructed within 1000' of a house foundation. These same wind turbines in Vermilion County are driving families out of their homes after being sited as close as 1665' from the corner of the house.
During the meeting, Vince Green, representing Mainstream Renewables changed his tune when he realized his company was "on the ropes". He said that his company was ready to come to the negotiation table to "voluntarily" increase setbacks from wind turbines in relationship to homes. His last ditch effort to salvage the marketability of the project showed that Mainstream Renewables may only be saying whatever it takes to keep hope alive. Mainstream Renewables is known for "flipping" projects for a short-term gain. This scheme may be over quick as support for their project erodes at a fast pace. Mr. Green nearly "threw in the towel." Any potential purchaser of the project, including Japanese based Maurbeni, will need to test the water temperature before attempting to switch horses with Mainstream in the midstream.
Ted Hartke, from Vermilion County, spoke about how he used to support wind projects until the turbines near his home began operating. Hartke said to the crowd of approximately two hundred people, including Kevin Borgia, a small group of Chicago area pro-wind advocates and college-aged Sierra Club members, "I am sure that you are doing what you think is best, and you are just like I used to be. The difference is that I can no longer live in my wonderful home I worked so hard to provide to my family." Hartke's family moved into a double wide trailer 8 miles away to escape the sleep deprivation caused by wind turbine low frequency noise. His home now sits vacant until he and his wife work to recover or overcome their losses. Hartke's last statement was directed toward Vince Green's comment about exercising property rights and having to ask permission to put a turbine on your own land, but the reality for Hartke is that he asks permission from Invenergy, to shut down the wind turbines at night so his wife and children would be able to sleep in their own home.
Two of the board members appeared to waver as they reluctantly voted "no" on the text amendment which would have placed turbines 1500' from property lines instead of 1000' from homes. Ron Wait (a previous long standing Illinois state rep now Boone County Board member) was required to repeat his vote only after a fellow board member assisted him in pulling his microphone closer to his mouth. When the audience could finally hear his vote, there was a collective groan of disappointment from the local residents who were present and had previously voted for him. Afterwards, multiple citizens approached Mr. Wait to ask why he had turned on the evidence. His constituents will likely vote him out in the upcoming primary. Craig Schultz, board member seated next to the podium was visibly affected as he cast his vote. He appeared to become physically ill and may have struggled with his decision. His next re-election may be difficult for him as well.
At the end of the meeting, both groups on opposing sides of the issue appeared to acknowledge that this will continue to be a long drawn-out fight which could end some political careers and launch political hopefuls who will be cutting their teeth on the toughest battle held within the borders of Boone County for many years.
Edgar County Watchdogs