HETTINGER, N.D. – The Adams County Planning and Zoning Commission Monday tabled a decision on an application for a 75-tower wind farm in Duck Creek Township – a rural home and farm area. The panel will consult with its attorney about legal issues raised and whether Thunder Spirit Wind’s application complies with the county’s land use plan. Adams County State’s Attorney Aaron Roseland was unable to attend the meeting.
Nearly 50 people crowded the Adams County Courthouse on Monday.
Thunder Spirit Wind said the towers will service the Montana-Dakota Utilities Substation and power would be sold through the Midwest Independent Operators System transmission grid.
It’s estimated that landowners will be paid $875,000 annually in leases for the towers. Adams County will receive $650,000 in property taxes if it is approved.
Adams County is requiring setbacks of:
- One-half mile from buildings.
- 200 feet from roads.
- Wind tower blades can be no lower than 75 feet above the ground.
Cost to build the turbines is estimated to be $350 million.
Jeri Lynn Bakken, chairwoman of the planning commission, said the wind farm proposal is one of the “first hot issues” to be discussed since the county adopted its new comprehensive land use plan two years ago. “We wanted to make sure the application matched our specific zoning ordinance,” she said of delaying action. She said one person protesting had an attorney present that challenged Thunder Spirit’s application.
Also missing from the proposal is any mention of a bond arrangement for reclamation of the land if Thunder Spirit were to quit operating the turbines, according to Bakken.
Planning commissioners also questioned whether Thunder Spirit Wind has the right to waive the county’s half-mile setbacks required in its ordinance, she added. “They were asking residents to sign a waiver so the setbacks could be less than is allowed,” Bakken said.
Bakken said the next meeting on the wind farm will be held sometime during the week of Aug. 19. “More public input will be received,” she said.
She sensed there was no real consensus from the planning commission about the wind farm. “It’s mixed,” she said. “I think many board members were relieved to think about it. There were a lot of interesting points made at the hearing.”
She said the planning and zoning commission only makes a recommendation about the wind farm application and the final decision will be made by the county commission.
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