PAXTON — The Ford County Board has been confronted with yet another request from a resident concerned about wind farms. And again, the board offered no discussion on whether it would consider adopting stricter regulations.
In the past year, the board has repeatedly been asked — but has refused — to discuss possible revisions to the county's ordinance regulating wind farms. Until Monday's meeting, the requests have been made mainly by Cindy and Ann Ihrke, two candidates for the board in the March 20 primary election who are both members of Energize Illinois, an organization opposed to the wind-energy industry.
But on Monday night, the person requesting greater protections was Tom Harrison. His home southeast of Paxton is about a quarter-mile from one of the 94 wind turbines built last fall as part of the Pioneer Trail Wind Farm.
"When you walk out on my back deck, it looks like it's right on top of you," Harrison said, adding that the nearest turbine sometimes creates a "loud 'woosh' like a jet plane's going over you constantly. There is a definite sound."
Harrison said the turbine also creates what is known as "shadow flicker" when the turbine's blades pass over the horizon during sunrise or sunset. Both the noise and flicker issues are "variable" depending on the time of day, he said.
"As far as movement, sometimes there's movement, and sometimes there's no movement at all. And sometimes you hear it; sometimes you can't," Harrison said.
Harrison asked what the board has done to protect citizens like him who live near turbines but are not leasing their land to a wind farm developer.
"I guess my question to you is, 'How am I covered?' or 'Is there anything that covers me as far as noise level or as far as distance?'" Harrison said. "The main thing concerning me is the noise — and there is a reasonable amount of noise."
To protect people living near future wind farms in Ford County, Harrison suggested the board increase the county's existing 1,000-foot setback between wind turbines and "non-participating" landowners' homes. Harrison said he has heard that turbines need to be at least "a half-mile or a mile" from a home to be considered a comfortable distance away.
Citing research, the Ihrkes have also asked the board to consider amending the ordinance to require a greater setback.