Morgan County Commissioners Separate Boards, Change Language For Wind Ordinance

By Benjamin Cox on December 16, 2019 at 2:11pm

The Morgan County Commissioners had to change some language in a recent ordinance to eliminate confusion and to keep powers separated for specific functions. The Morgan County Commissioners established the Morgan County Board of Appeals at the request of concerned citizen Mike Woodyard during last week’s commissioners’ meeting. Woodyard advocated for a separation of the Plans Commission and a Zoning Board of Appeals due to their separate functions in the Morgan County Wind Ordinance. Woodyard and Commissioner Chairman Bradley Zeller spoke several times by phone over the weekend about making the change.

Chairman of the Morgan County Regional Planning Commission Director Dusty Douglas explains some of the changes in the ordinance’s language: “We had a long, existing Plans Commission that handled subdivision applications; a Regional Planning Commission; and then we went to a Board of Appeals – we had all of these boards that were used interchangeably or some folks used the terms interchangeably. Now through the ordinance and the changes made today, we are strictly talking about the Board of Appeals when it comes to the wind project. It will be a five member group that will preside over required public hearings over any potential and current wind projects.”

Douglas explains the separation of powers: “The Board of Appeals is a site-permitting group and they will ultimately hear the public hearing on behalf of the county board and make a recommendation to the county board whether the application meets the terms set forth in the wind ordinance.”

The term “Plans Commission” will ultimately be stricken from the original Wind Ordinance and replaced by “Board of Appeals.” Douglas says the Plans Commission isn’t going away. “The Plans Commission, we’ve always used that term to talk about small division changes with anything subject to the Illinois Platte Act. We are going to circle back around with that group and the Regional Planning Commission, which will talk more about holistic growth and economic development issues of the county. These two groups aren’t going away, but just to avoid any confusion [the name change] is strictly focusing on the Board of Appeals.”

Chairman Bradley Zeller called roll call votes for both ordinances establishing the board of appeals and also changing the language of the ordinance. Zeller abstained from changing the language in the WECS ordinance but did for establishing the Board of Appeals. Both votes passed unanimously.

In other business, this morning the Commissioners maintained the current structure of the board with Bradley Zeller remaining Chairman and Ginny Fanning retaining Vice chair for the upcoming year.