December 13, 2013

Committee not a fan of wind turbines

By STEPHANIE IVANKOVICH - Staff Writer | Times-Republican | December 13, 2013 |

The Plan & Zoning Commission voted unanimously Thursday, with the exception of two absent members, against a recommendation to the Board of Adjustment of approval for a special use permit for placing two 445 ft. wind turbines in city limits.

Karsen Rumpf, of Marshall Wind LLC, proposed the two wind turbine project that would be located southeast of Marshalltown on a farm parcel between East Merle Hibbs Boulevard, 18th Avenue and Iowa Avenue East.

“These are projects that Marshall Wind LLC and myself are in cooperation with as far as meeting energy demands in community scale areas for industry energy usage and meeting renewable energy standards of Alliant Energy,” Rumpf said. “We are developing a variety of projects in north central Iowa.”

Alliant Energy would distribute the energy, but Kenn Vinson, who spoke on behalf of the Alliant Energy generating plant in Marshalltown, fell short of endorsement of the project.

“Neighbors need to understand we aren’t promoting this and developing this,” Vinson said. “So the developer, if they want to move forward, needs to go and talk to somebody else about where the power would go. It’s not an Alliant Energy project.”

Steve Valbracht, Plan & Zoning Commission committee member, questioned whether the proposed turbines would bring down property values.

“I think this definitely in my opinion, isn’t the best spot for two 444 ft. tall structures,” Valbracht said.

Jon Boston, Plan & Zoning Commission committee member, said he has seen the same objections when cell phone towers were talked about in the past.

“As far as I can tell any place that we’ve put a cell phone tower or water tower or ect., doesn’t seem to have any impact on property values for those items which are also very tall,” Boston said. “I notice that a lot of people talk about the wind turbines that are down around Laurel and up around Gladbrook and I’ve never heard anybody say anything real negative about them.”

Stephen Troskey, city planner, said he was worried about potential buyers in that area.

“I think there is a well documented decrease in value for those areas around,” Troskey said. “I think that’s too big of a risk to take with this area of town and such a large structure.”

Fauna Nord, Plan & Zoning Commission committee member, who is also a real estate agent in town, said it does have an affect on whether people purchase in an area.

“They are concerned about the noise factor, they are concerned about the look and this seems to in the city for me to put something that large,” Nord said. “I don’t think it’s the right spot.”

Bill Martin, who lives adjacent to the project, spoke on behalf of the neighbors about being in opposition of the special use permit.

“The character of the southeast area neighborhoods would be forever adversely affected,” Martin said. “Continual noise, flicker or sunglare and eyesore would be permanent. In passing, a resident has labeled this to me, ‘this project is a King Kong erector set which is obnoxious,’ end quote.”

Martin said having the proposed project would only benefit the local property owner, the out of town project developer and everyone else would lose.

“I ask, do we want giant wind turbines to be a gateway to our city? Fellow citizens are rising in opposition to this special use permit featuring the twin 400 foot towers within our city limits,” Martin said. “I say not in our backyard and neither on Marshalltown’s front porch.”

Al Hoop, 4th Ward council member, said he supported the people in the 4th Ward about their opposition to the project.

“I don’t know if there is anyone here who is going to speak positively about the project,” Hoop said. “I’d be willing to listen to that, but I will support what the majority of the people want.”

Nord asked the public if anyone was in favor of the project.

The council chambers, filled with members of the public, was silent.

The final decision to go forward with the project is up to the Board of Adjustment committee. That final decision will be made at the Board of Adjustment meeting Tuesday.

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