SYCAMORE – The DeKalb County Board unanimously approved a moratorium Wednesday on developing wind and solar farms for 18 months or until a sustainable energy ordinance is passed.
During this time, the county will assess the effects wind towers have had on the community, and the board cannot issue special-use permits for wind farms or take any action on commercial solar farms.
NextEra Energy Resources gained a special-use permit in 2009 to build a wind farm in Afton, Clinton, Milan and Shabbona townships.
In February, EDF Renewable Development petitioned the board to build two 200-foot wind testing towers in South Grove Township south of Kirkland to determine whether conditions are favorable to build wind turbines in that area.
The moratorium does not prohibit the company from building the testing towers.
County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski Jr. said the company would have to decide whether to pursue the testing towers or wait through the assessment process.
“That probably is not something I think they would be excited to do, because there’s no sense of where we’re going to end up at,” he said.
Pietrowski said community members and sustainable energy companies will be able to provide input on wind and solar farms in DeKalb County during the period of assessment.
He said the Planning and Zoning Committee would evaluate ordinances from other communities, compare the height of DeKalb County’s wind turbines to those in other communities, and listen to pros and cons from residents living near solar and wind farms.
Possible wind tower effects listed in the ordinance include the value of surrounding properties; aesthetics near wind towers; shadow flicker; noise; effects on birds and bats; drainage around the towers; construction traffic near the towers; effects on aerial spraying of adjoining farms; and effects on TV, radio, microwave and internet reception.
Pietrowski said if board members are not comfortable with creating an ordinance upon their research, they would have to repeal the moratorium and consider each individual proposal for a special-use permit.
“If we do agree to an ordinance though, the whole board has to understand that we have to live with that ordinance,” he said. “We have to be very happy with that because if somebody meets those criteria, that means they get to do that in our county.”
He said he is not concerned with the board being able to reach a decision on what direction to take within the 18-month period.
“It’s just giving a little more time to really give this a thorough investigation in terms of how the county wants to proceed, not just now, but in the future for both wind and solar,” Pietrowski said.