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Letter to the Editor: Thanks to DeWitt County Board of Appeals For Their Service

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Posted July 21, 2018

 

Dear Editor:

 

I am writing to express my gratitude to the DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).  As was mentioned in a previous letter, the ZBA met on Monday evening July 16, 2018, to consider six proposed changes to the zoning ordinances for Commercial Wind Energy Conversion (wind turbines).  Following nearly three hours of testimony, thoughtful and probing questions by members of the ZBA, and much discussion, the board adjourned, having voted on only 2 of the 6 text amendments.

 

The board reconvened on Wednesday night, July 18, and spent nearly five grueling hours listening to additional research and testimony, asking questions and having thoughtful discussion on the remaining four text amendments.  As the night wore on and fatigue set in, I struggled to stay focused.  I remember looking up at the board as midnight approached, and the interest and attentiveness of the board was as strong as when the hearing had begun hours earlier.  I can still see the image in my mind of ZBA members leaning forward in their chairs and intently listening as speaker after speaker testified.

 

Many in the community will understandably be disappointed in the outcome of votes, as much time and energy has been spent by passionate citizens on both sides of the proposed ordinance changes.  However, I couldn’t be more pleased with the preparedness and effort of the majority of ZBA board members.  They have a difficult job, and they exceeded my expectations.

 

Regardless of how you feel on the issues discussed at the July ZBA hearing, I encourage everyone in the community to thank our ZBA members for their service to our community.   It would be a shame for them to feel unappreciated, because we have a group of people giving up their personal time and looking out for us.  The ZBA board members are:

 

Don Fugate, Andy Hedrick, John Griffin, Sarah Owens, Steve Perring, Mark Sterr and David Waters.

 

To the members of the ZBA, I thank you for your service!


Joe Witte

Waynesville, IL 61778

 

 

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Letter to the Editor: Disappointed in DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals Vote

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Posted July 17, 2018

 

Dear Editor:

 

I am writing to express my disappointment in the ZBA board’s vote.  Monday evening July 16, 2018, the DeWitt County Board’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) met to consider six proposed changes to the zoning ordinances for Commercial Wind Energy Conversion (wind turbines).  The County Board’s Regional Planning Commission (RPC) approved this change and sent it to the ZBA.  The first recommended change involved the absolute lack of any requirement in the Ordinances that the wind company adhere to recommendations of the environmental experts.

 

For example, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) submitted a letter to the Zoning Administrator outlining seven actions that need to be taken to provide barriers and protection from the wind turbine installation to surrounding environment, including wildlife.  IDNR has no way of enforcing these, only the County Board can make these common sense recommendations a requirement.  Some examples of the recommendations were to avoid siting wind turbines within one mile of Mettler Woods Nature Preserve, an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) Site; requiring the applicant to document to the County its contacts with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service pertaining to potential adverse effects to Bald Eagles; to conduct three years of mortality monitoring to statistically quantify bird and bat mortality, by species, due to turbine operations.

 

These simple actions are not impossible, impractical or extremely costly to implement.  However, as pointed out by the Audubon expert during the ZBA hearing, history shows that the wind companies will find a reason not to perform these simple actions unless they are required to.

 

It is very unfortunate that this panel of appointed citizens disregarded the RPC board’s recommendation and does not appear to respect our environment enough to ensure it is protected to the best of their ability.  The vote to approve a change to the Ordinance to require the wind companies to adhere was six to one to NOT approve (Fugate,Griffin,Owens,Perring,Sterr,Waters-NO; Hedrick-YES).  This vote was shocking, to say the least, for those of us who have worked with DNR experts to understand what is best for our community and the environment.

 

We have a growing population of Bald Eagles in this county that we should be proud to host.  We have endangered and protected species of wildlife, native forests, and prairie in this rich agricultural area that we should do everything in our power to protect.  Yet, we are once again at the mercy of the BIG CORPORATION (foreign owned and government subsidized by your tax dollars) with only a hope and prayer that our community’s wildlife and nature will be preserved and protected.  And the wind company still refers to us as the “small group”, the vocal minority.  Are you part of the silent majority, or should you speak out…

 

Terry Husted

Birkbeck, Illinois

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