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Energy wind farm to make case

MORRISON – Many of Mainstream Renewable Power’s potential neighbors aren’t putting out the welcome mat. Far from it.

Next week, the Ireland-based wind energy company is presenting its proposal for nine wind turbines in southeastern Whiteside County, near Deer Grove, population 48.

The company will make its case before the planning and zoning commission on Wednesday. The panel plans to meet every other week until it completes its review of Mainstream’s application.

The commission usually meets in a room at the county courthouse in Morrison. But the wind issue is expected to attract a bigger crowd than usual, so the panel will meet at the Rock Falls Community Building.

The company’s presentation could consume much of the commission’s two and one-half hour meeting, said Stuart Richter, planning and zoning administrator.

Many Deer Grove residents oppose having wind turbines nearby. They complain about the potential for noise, vibrations and shadow flicker, which they believe may affect their health.

After the county revealed Mainstream’s plans last year, the Deer Grove Village Board voted unanimously to regulate turbines within 1.5 miles of its boundaries. Village President Al Thompson has been a vocal critic of wind farms.

“The people of Deer Grove and surrounding areas don’t want any windmills in this area at all. It’s not just me; it’s the people,” he said in a recent interview.

After Mainstream presents its proposal, the public will get the right to provide evidence to the commission, Richter said. Residents also will have a chance to comment on the company’s proposal, he said.

At the end of the process, the commission will make recommendations to the county board. Residents should make their comments to the zoning commission because the board won’t take public comments before it makes its decision, Richter said.

The company also is proposing 19 turbines for northwestern Bureau County.

On March 15, the Bureau County Zoning Board of Appeals held its first hearing on the Mainstream proposal. About 75 people attended, although some were there for other zoning issues.

Mainstream officials say they plan to build 60 to 90 turbines in the first phase of the project and a similar number in the second.

With 28 already proposed, that leaves at least 32 more – all of which would go in Lee County. Many of those are expected for Hamilton Township, the board of which already has expressed its opposition to wind turbines.

Mainstream Renewable Power officials say they’ll address residents’ concerns. Each wind turbine brings thousands of dollars of tax revenue for area taxing entities, including schools and townships, they say.

Mainstream has yet to submit an application to Lee County, which is expected to vote on a new wind energy ordinance next month.

The Whiteside County Planning and Zoning Commission meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Rock Falls Community Building, 601 W. 10th St. in Rock Falls.

Mainstream Renewable Power will make the case for its wind farm, which will include Whiteside, Lee and Bureau counties.

For more information on the hearing, call Whiteside County’s zoning office at 815-772-5175.

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