Think a towering wind turbine in your back yard will be just the thing to lower your energy costs?
Village planners are working on an update to the Orland Park Land Development Code that will include rules for renewable energy sources, including solar panels, geothermal systems and wind turbines. This code will be the guideline for anyone who wants to add these systems onto any building in town, whether it's a house, office, store or warehouse.
Village planners presented the code addition during the Aug. 16 meeting of the Development Services and Planning committee, but trustees on the panel want the guidelines rewritten because the tall wind turbines might affect home values.
Where this started: The idea for this code change came last summer when residents first approached the village about adding provisions for renewable energy sources.
Why should we care? Geothermal systems are underground. Solar panels lay flat. But wind turbines stand tall. Additions people can see, such as a turbine 12 feet taller than a roof, might adversely affect property values. Think about cell towers and why people contest when they are built near homes. The questions of how tall a turbine can be and whether a public hearing should be required for anyone who wants to build one will be considered in the rewrite.
Questions to consider: What should the process be to allow wind turbines in Orland Park? Should there be a limit on how close they can be to private residences? Are renewable energy sources effective enough, or should we stick with updating our buildings to use less energy, such as adding insulation, LED lights, rain barrels for non-potable water, certified energy-efficient appliances?
Who has weighed in? Trustee James Dodge said during the August meeting that simply allowing turbines to go up, even if code guidelines are followed, would lead to complaints from upset people who live nearby. Trustee Brad O'Halloran said a turbine should require a special use permit, with a public hearing as part of the process.
Dodge said we should be focused on energy efficiency because the technology for single-building renewable energy sources isn't developed enough to make a difference. Someday, he said, just not now.
"I'm all for trying to find renewable sources, but my concern is at that kind of scale, is it worth the other costs with it?" Dodge told Patch after the meeting. "Whereas we have interesting technology to reduce costs at tens of thousands per year by using less energy."
No one disagreed about the code guidelines suggested for solar panels and geothermal systems.
What's next? Revisions to the draft code will return to committee in October.