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A towering impact  

He doesn’t want to stop the wind project, but he’d like the county to take more time to make a decision that could do more harm than good.

Scott Riddlemoser lives about a mile from at least one of the wind turbines proposed as part of a nine-tower project in Lyon County, about seven miles south of Minnesota Highway 23, near Lyon County Road 2 by Russell.

“I hate to see the county be reactive and that we don’t look at everything that impacts people like me,” said Riddlemoser, who owns about 10 acres with his house in the county.

Lyon County’s planning and zoning commission will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the county boardroom at the courthouse to discuss the conditional use permit applications for the four proposed projects.

The county’s existing wind energy project regulations do not very well address his specific concerns of setbacks, noise, wind wake and easements and visual impact, Riddlemoser said.

County zoning administrator John Biren said the county ordinance does address setbacks, noise, wind wakes and other issues.

Still, input from residents such as Riddlemoser will be considered by the planning and zoning board and the county, Biren said.

What happens if one of those roughly 400 foot high tower collapses and it’s too close to a road as it will be under existing rules? Riddlemoser said. And, he said, what about snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicle users who travel in county road ditches who will be too close to wind towers?

The road safety issues related to existing setback requirements are just one of his concerns, Riddlemoser said.

A new county ordinance the county will pass next week better addresses wind energy development, but it, too, still has gaps, Riddlemoser said.

The county needs to better follow state guidelines developed to address noise, visual impact, public and personal health, and safety and other issues, Riddlemoser said.

But Biren said the project would meet the criteria of the new and old ordinance, “except for the wind rights issue.”

“I’m not trying to stop the project,” Riddlemoser said. “I want to make sure the template the county uses meets the intent of state (guidelines).”

RAHN, a wind energy development company from Edina, has proposed the four projects of nine total towers. The towers will be about 375 to 400 feet in height from the ground to the top of one blade, Biren said.

Missouri River Energy will use the power and, in turn, one of its partners, Marshall Municipal Utilities, will use the wind power, Biren said.

At peak capacity, each tower can produce 2.1 megawatts of power, Biren said.

Biren said the circumstances of the four conditional use permits are somewhat unusual.

“They applied before the new ordinance takes effect,” Biren said of the conditional use permits.

The county had already approved a five-tower project last year, but that company was not able to obtain turbines, Biren said.

RAHN is a different company and has modified that proposal and expanded the project, Biren said.

Conditional use permits are needed this year because of the changes, Biren said.

Riddlemoser outlined four major concerns: setback standards allow towers to be too close to roads, noise standards only address noise heard at the residence and not at the neighboring property line, wind wake issues are not fully addressed, nor are visual impact issues.

Riddlemoser said the towers will be allowed too close to roads.

The noise is measured in terms of reaching his house, but he wants the noise to be measured in terms of reaching his property, Riddlemoser said.

Riddlemoser said the county needs to better consider the wind wake issue.

When wind goes through a turbine, the wind wake or wind that flows in adjacent areas is not as powerful for a certain distance.

“The production of wind is downgraded as you go downwind from the turbine,” Biren said.

A developer would not build a tower behind a first tower because of the diminished wind, Biren said.

“The current ordinance doesn’t address that very well,” Biren said.

Riddlemoser also noted a gap in visual impact.

Towers are tall and the space on towers needs to be governed, Riddlemoser said.

The towers could turn into advertising billboards, Riddlemoser said.

“They could have “˜vote for Harry’ on there, there are no restrictions,” Riddlemoser said.

Biren said the proposed towers will be white.

By Rae Kruger – Independent Staff Writer

marshallindependent.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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