County approves wind amendment for aircraft warning lighting system

Two other key amendments fail

Gordon Woods
Posted 8/30/18

County approves wind amendment 

for aircraft warning lighting system

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County approves wind amendment for aircraft warning lighting system

Two other key amendments fail


CLINTON — For residents concerned about the red, blinking lights radiating from wind towers at night, the county board last week approved a remedy.  

For people supporting two other proposed amendments to the county’s wind energy ordinance, the board was not as accommodating.  Amendments increasing tower set back requirements and noise did not pass the board vote.

More than 45 people were scheduled to address the county board on August 22, during a special meeting.  Some represented Tradewind Energy, the company planning a two-phase wind energy project in northwest DeWitt County; most were opponents of the plan.

Local Tradewind lead developer Tom Swierczewski was the first to speak to the board.  Swierczewski revisited his company’s position on the proposed amendments, particularly the one increasing the tower set back requirements.

“The existing regulations are more than sufficient to protect the residents of DeWitt County,” Swierczewski said.  Swierczewski said there had not been any wind farms developed in area counties that adopted similar amendments, specifically Livingston, Iroquois and Boone Counties.

He said the amendments passed in those counties, “accomplished their goal; wind development was stopped.”

Swierczewski also asked the board to consider individual property rights.

“A neighbor shouldn’t be able to veto what another neighbor can do on their land,” he said.

Tradewind Energy head meteorologist Dr. Brandon Storm repeated the company’s position on the set back amendment, that the requirement would make the project no longer feasible.

“This is a project killer,” Storm said.  “There would be no project with those setbacks applied.”

Based on the proposed setbacks, the number of towers needed for the project would be drastically reduced.

Among the residents opposing the wind project, Patricia Klemm talked about her family’s 400-acre farm and that they chose not to participate in the project.

“We are strongly affected by the setback because, if we did chose to build any new homes or anything on our property, and we wanted to build them on a corner, we would be too close to the windmills because the proposed windmills are 700 feet on every side,” Klemm told the board.

Klemm said her family actively uses all of their land, so a surrounding wind farm would have a large effect on the operation of their farm.

The stories were similar from other residents who addressed the board, including negative experiences with the noise caused by wind turbines and effect on property values.

At the beginning of the meeting, board chairman David Newberg reminded residents the board would not consider any comments not given in testimony to the Zoning Board of Appeals, although they were free to make any comments they chose.

Tradewind representatives have said they expect to apply soon for the first special use permit for the wind energy project.