DeKalb County committee to discuss wind ordinance draft Wednesday

If reading goes well, ordinance could soon go before hearing officer

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SYCAMORE – The DeKalb County Planning and Zoning Committee will discuss a draft of the county's wind energy ordinance during its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Legislative Center’s Gathertorium, 200 N. Main St., in Sycamore.

The meeting comes after more than a dozen people addressed the committee during its May 24 meeting.

County Board members are crafting the ordinance after approving a solar power ordinance that went into effect April 1. The board passed a moratorium last year on the wind project development for 18 months, or until an ordinance for similar projects is in place.

Committee Chairman Steve Faivre said County Board officials are using Boone County's existing ordinance for wind turbines as a skeleton for DeKalb County's draft, since it's one of the more recent ordinances passed in the state. He said the DeKalb County ordinance might look like Boone's structurally but will likely be adjusted in sections regarding setbacks and decommissioning, which have been some of the most divisive issues cited in residents' comments at previous meetings.

"The ordinance that we're starting with is not the one we intend to pass," Faivre said.

After committee and public discussion Wednesday, Faivre said, the draft will go to a hearing at a future date, where a hearing officer will make a recommendation on whether the committee should pass the draft. He said the draft will then go back to the committee and then to the County Board.

County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski said the board has accumulated so many documents for and against the wind turbines and has heard from many people regarding their personal experiences with them. With the moratorium and elections coming up, he said, board members are working through summer recess to have an ordinance passed before November.

"I think that's a lot of pressure to put on new board members," Pietrowski said.

The committee also will look at a proposed special use permit, which was recommended for approval by the county's hearing officer earlier this month, from Borrego Solar Systems Inc. to install a 2-megawatt, 13.7-acre community solar garden on property on Elva Road, about 754 feet west of Anderland Road, in Milan Township. Faivre said this type of approval process will also apply for EDF Renewables, the company that is looking to submit an application to install a large wind farm in the northern part of the county.

After everything is said and done, some people on the board may wish they're on a different board in a different county, Faivre said with a chuckle.

“This is a balancing act of competing perspectives on how or what the value, or lack of value, this [wind turbines] has," Faivre said.