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Proposed wind farm project draws more objection

Staff writer

A proposed wind farm project drew more objections Monday as 14 people showed up at county commission meeting to be heard.

Commissioner Dianne Novak presented a March 6 newspaper article saying a 98-turbine wind farm project in Sumner County developed by Tradewind Energy, which developed Diamond Vista Wind Farm in northern portions of the county, will result in nearly $1 million per year payments in lieu of taxes to Sumner County and $25,000 each to the county’s three school districts.

Novak said she doesn’t see why Marion County should get less than Sumner County from a proposed Expedition Wind Farm project.

Commission chairman Kent Becker said his own research shows many wind farms have larger setbacks than project developer National Renewable Solutions proposes for the Expedition project.

Pat Pelstring, NRS president and CEO, said quarter-mile setbacks are more common and NRS is studying the issue.

Amy Stutzman, who has spoken to protest the wind farm in recent weeks, challenged Pelstring on participation agreements for

Wind

landowners without a tower on their property. Stutzman said her property is bordered on two sides by property that will be included in the conditional use permit application.

“I have not seen a participation agreement,” Stutzman said.

Landowners with property too small for a wind tower but included within the span of the wind farm get participation agreements that pay landowners $2,000 per year. She held up a copy of one.

“If it wasn’t for my neighbors getting a copy of this, I wouldn’t know about it,” Stutzman said.

Pelstring said he would be happy to sit down with the neighbors and get their addresses so NRS can contact them.

“You have it,” Stutzman said before walking out of the room to stand in the hall and listen to the rest of the meeting from the doorway.

Rural Peabody farmer Randy Eitzen said he found a record that indicated Rex Savage, who initially envisioned and started work to develop a wind farm in the south part of the county, is still involved in the project.

Pelstring said NRS didn’t purchase all of Windborne’s assets.

“It always seems the overwhelming majority aren’t for it anyway,” Eitzen told commissioners. “I think you do the community a disservice by dragging this thing out.”

Becky Yoder, who lives in East Branch township, brought her grandson, Ryker.

“I’m here because of the health effect,” Yoder said. “This is what you guys really need to think about.”

Yoder said she learned at a conference that people are returning to rural areas. She said also she’d read a report about wind farms in Wisconsin having detrimental effect on dairy cattle.

“Good luck,” Yoder told commissioners. “You have a hard decision to make.”

“I take exception to where this thing is going,” landowner Byron Lange said.

Lange said discussion on the wind farm should have been scheduled as an open forum so everyone would be able to be heard.

Novak, who had the discussion put on the agenda, took offense.

“I put this on the agenda because I wanted to present my research,” she said.

“The whole issue here is wind farms,” commissioner Randy Dallke said. “Let’s cut this out about trying to hang somebody. I don’t like this.”

County counsel Brad Jantz said he agreed with Lange that if people had been aware of the meeting, more might have been there. Jantz said commissioners could have scheduled another public forum, and that if they do so, he wants them to publicize the meeting more widely so people who want to attend are aware of it.

“We attended the meeting to ensure we were there to answer any questions the commission may have had,” Pelstring said in a statement after the meeting. “We continue to work with area landowners to make sure we are addressing their concerns. As we discussed previously, we plan to have a draft CUP application to present to the Commission early next week.”

Last modified March 20, 2019

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