3/27/09 South of the Border: Why Illinois county of DeKalb said no to Florida Power and Light, and Statement from Environmental Protection, UK
The latest from our neighbors to the south: Why DeKalb County, Illinois said no to Florida Power and Light wind farm.
Florida Power and Light has been denied wind farm zoning approval after a marathon 19 hour hearing last Saturday with over 800 people in attendance. The hearing lasted from 9am until 3:40 am the next morning.
Attorneys for two opposition groups presented evidence as to why the zoning should be denied.
The hearing officer agreed that the information was strong enough to create doubts about the claims, based on eight findings.
To download a copy of the findings, click here.
Hearing officer does not recommend wind farm
Elana Grimm- Daily Chronicle
A hearing officer has recommended the county deny a request for a special use permit to a company that wants to build 133 turbines in parts of southern DeKalb County.
In a March 25 report, DeKalb County Hearing Office Dave Dockus recommended the special use permit that was applied for in January by NextEra Energy Resources be denied based on eight findings.
Those reasons include "significant disagreement" between expert sources on the effect wind turbines have on property values and the effect noise of the turbines has on public health. Dockus also cited a lack of evidence on the impact heavy trucks would have on local roads.
But the officer's recommendation isn't the final say in the matter. The county board's Planning and Zoning Committee is scheduled to meet April 1 to discuss the issue, and will make its own recommendation to the DeKalb County Board.
"The county board has a full range of options in front of it," said Paul Miller, the county's planning director. These include following the hearing officer's recommendation and denying the application, approving the application, approving it with conditions, or tabling it and sending it back to the hearing officer.
"The point is that the hearing officer's recommendation is just that – it's a recommendation," Miller said.
In his report, Dockus stated the company provided an inadequate property value guarantee plan, no clear plan on how it would pay property taxes after the current formula expires after 2011, an inadequate decommissioning process and no plan to correct drainage problems that may result during the proposed project.
Lastly, crop dusting and other farm activity would be affected by the proposed wind farm, Dockus stated in the report.
"I think I'm disappointed," said DeKalb County Board Chairwoman Ruth Anne Tobias, noting that Dockus was the hearing officer who approved a wind farm proposal in 2002.
A 19-hour public hearing on the new proposal was held Saturday at Sycamore High School, after an earlier hearing scheduled in February was canceled because there wasn't enough space for the several hundred who showed. Officials estimate more than 700 attended Saturday's public hearing, which lasted until nearly 4 a.m.
Tobias said she was unsure what course of action would be taken.
"We have done that before – we have gone over the hearing officer's recommendation. I don't know what will happen this time," Tobias said.
Dockus, contacted by Miller's office, denied a request for comment.
Noise Impacts of Wind Farms Must Not be Neglected
24 Mar 2009
Environmental Protection UK1 welcome the report released today by RSPB2, which states that the use of bird sensitivity maps will ensure that wind power and wildlife can co-exist.
We are, however, extremely concerned that some news reporting of this3 has stated that the only obstacle to onshore wind development is now 'Nimbyism'.
There is increasing evidence that if siting of turbines is not properly considered, noise impacts can make homes uninhabitable4.
With larger turbines now the norm, the more than 10 year old guidance used to predict noise from these is being found by acousticians not to be appropriate5.
It is increasingly clear that exceptional care must be taken in siting of turbines to avoid major impacts on communities, as well as wildlife.
"While Environmental Protection UK are wholeheartedly in favour of renewable energy development, this must not be at the expense of avoidable impacts on neighbouring residents." said Mary Stevens, Policy Officer at Environmental Protection UK.
"To say that Nimbyism is now the only barrier to development is a gross oversimplification."
More: Mary Stevens 01273 878770 / 07730 061850
Notes to Editors:
- Environmental Protection UK (formerly NSCA), is the environmental protection charity supported by pollution control professionals. We have been working for a cleaner, quieter, healthier world since 1898.
- Positive Planning for Onshore Wind – RSPB
- BBC Today Programme 24 March - item on wind turbines
- Press report on wind turbines
- Prediction and Assessment of Wind Turbine Noise, Bowdler et al, Institute of Acoustics Bulletin March/April 2009