Vermilion County panel to mull wind farm, zoning rules

Vermilion County panel to mull wind farm, zoning rules

DANVILLE — At the request of two Vermilion County Board members, a new committee will consider two controversial topics: the county's ordinance regulating wind turbines and zoning.

At the close of Tuesday night's board meeting, board member Kevin Green said he and other members want to review the wind farm ordinance, and he asked board Chairman Gary Weinard if a committee could be formed. Weinard agreed to put together such a committee, and board member Jim McMahon asked if the same panel could also discuss adopting zoning in Vermilion, which has never had land-use regulation.

Weinard said he doesn't believe that zoning is the answer to everything, but the committee could take that under consideration, too, if it's the desire of board members.

Rick Knight, an Indianola farmer, has been a long-time, outspoken opponent of zoning, and he responded to McMahon's request, saying that it's not the desire of every board member. Chuck Mockbee said he agrees with Knight.

For more than a year, several members of the public have been repeatedly asking the board to reconsider its wind ordinance. In the absence of zoning, the county board adopted an ordinance stipulating some safety issues regarding wind turbines. The current ordinance requires a turbine to be 1,200 feet from houses, but some local citizens and some board members have continued to lobby for that distance to be increased.

Champaign County, which has zoning, has the same set-back, 1,200 feet, for wind turbines.

McMahon was county board chairman when the wind ordinance was written and approved several years ago. He said after Tuesday night's meeting that zoning gives both sides of an issue an opportunity to be heard. He said if zoning had been in place before the first wind farm, it would have given a county body the opportunity to vote "yes" or "no." Instead, the county only had the right to stipulate some safety issues, he said.

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Theodore P. Hartke wrote on August 13, 2014 at 11:08 am

A rewritten wind ordinance is long overdue.  The first ordinance was provided through the wind industry and serves their interests without providing adequate protection to the public.  We don't know if updating the ordinance will address all of the issues because our current wind ordinance is ignored and was not enforced when InvEnergy failed to keep their towers lit during a power outage.  The ordinance stipulates a fine for unlit towers, and the Assistant State's Attorney, Bill Donahue, said that this was OK as long as it didn't become a habit.  I would bet that the wind farm still does not have a way to turn on the safety lights during power outages.  In Livingston County, it was reported that a Life Flight helicopter would not enter the wind farm because it was too unsafe to attempt medical assistance to a woman who died from her injuries sustained in a car accident.  I never thought that building a wind farm in my community would eliminate the possibility of being airlifted for medical attention.  I certainly never thought that the noise from the turbines would cause me to abandon my home to protect our health.  With all of the information which is finally being publicized, all communities need to be wary of the problems with wind turbines.  Having to ask permission from InvEnergy's control room operator in Elgin was enough of an insult.  Now it is absolutely devastating InvEnergy's employee does not have the authorization from InvEnergy's leadership to turn off the turbines so we can sleep in our own home at night.  Low frequency noise (rumbling/thumping) has caused sleep related health issues for many of us who live within a half mile of wind turbines.  LFN does not dissipate over long distances.  It is a divisive issue because not all people experience the same physical disturbance.  This sleep issue seems to mostly affect children and those with motion-sickness tendencies.  Some individuals experience sleep interruption at distances as much as over 1 mile.  The issue with wind turbines is that they are too big and too close to our houses.  The issue with the low frequency noise that these turbines create is that this type of noise is not something that can be soundproofed with new walls, new windows, or heavy insulation which wind companies may be willing to pay for but doesn't fix the problem.  You may end up with a well-insulated house with lower power bills, but the victims inside the home still suffer.  For those people who are affected, it is a life-changing issue.  I think that measures need to be put in place to relocate those who get sick from the turbine operation.  The use and enjoyment of our property has been taken and used as a "plume of noise exhaust" from 500' tall wind turbines.  Please educate yourself and others so this does not happen to you and your friends or family.