A few weeks ago, Shelli Gust helped me explain how the proposed update of Lake County's zoning ordinance actually increased land-use options. But 9.4% of the county electorate was more interested in poking fingers in various commissioners' eyes than in updating our legal language to deal with modern land uses... and only 2.6% of our electorate cared enough about zoning to vote for the update.
That misinformed and grudgeful Nay has now claimed its first victim. Plastic mogul and expert walleye angler Dan Palli is installing a wind turbine on his Nunda property. The foundation and fiber-optic lines are in place. The turbine is on his property. But because Lake County's old zoning rules don't authorize the construction of private wind energy systems, Palli can't erect the tower and set those blades spinning. The old rules only permit commercial wind turbines. The amended rules rejected by the voters would have let Palli continue his plan to use his property to achieve energy self-reliance (see New Conditional Use #4).
Now the county commission can still save Palli's plan by passing just the five and a half pages of regulations that dealt with wind-energy systems in the rejected zoning ordinance. Zoning officer Deb Reinecke tells MDL that process could take six weeks. That still gives time for Palli to take advantage of grants which will cover part of the project cost but which are available only through the end of this year. With money riding on the project, the county commission can't wait around; they need to act now.
Updating the zoning ordinance piecemeal will take more time, but MDL publisher Jon Hunter agrees that approach is better than leaving Palli and other enterprising landowners stuck in the past. A spate of cranky letter-writers have been warning the commissioners not to try "sneaking" any new zoning regulations past the March No-voters. But those voters who thought their Nay was standing up for property rights should throw their support behind new wind-energy zoning regulations that would give Palli and the rest of us more liberty to use our land the way we see fit.