LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted July 17, 2018
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…