Overruling the objections of nearby landowners, Perry’s Zoning Board of Adjustment issued five conditional-use permits last week to Marshall Wind Energy, granting the company permission to build utility-scale wind turbines on three of its five preferred sites on Perry’s south side.
Led by its newly chosen chairperson John Taylor, who moved the resolution, the adjustment board voted four to one to grant Marshall Wind the permits. Joining Taylor in approving the measure were outgoing chairperson Rhonda Olsen, incoming vice chairperson Larry Meachum and board member Bruce Klein.
Taylor said the board of adjustment’s “ultimate goal is to get development into that area, where the industrial park is.”
He said he understood the concerns of the neighboring landowners but felt Marshall Wind had met the terms of the city’s wind ordinance.
Taylor also noted Perry City Council members Chuck Schott and Dr. Randy McCaulley were at the meeting and felt they would have raised any relevant objections from the city’s point of view if there were any.
Schott made a statement in support of granting the permits, saying the board of adjustment was facing “a big situation for the board and also a big situation for the city of Perry, Iowa.”
He said the “economic impact of doing this project correctly is very important” to future development. “I encourage the board to do it so that it’s very beneficial for Perry and not detrimental to the folks on the south side of town who are affected.”
Paula Secress, the board’s outgoing vice chair, was the sole voice opposing issuance of the permits. She said she was “trying to make sure it’s not too close to people’s properties.”
Secress said she supports wind energy in general. “I just think they’re too close to the city,” she said. “My job is to think about what’s good for the citizens, too, not only what’s good for business,” Secress said.
The board of adjustment vote capped a three-month process in which the city first amended its zoning ordinance to allow commercial-scale wind turbines within the city limits and then annexed the farmland on which the turbines will stand.
The turbines will lie east of K Avenue, between Iowa Highway 141 and 150th Street, on land rented by Marshall Wind from the Struyk’s Slopes Corporation and from William and Lynn Knoll of Dallas Center.
The board’s decisions are usually final. The city council can remand a decision of the board and ask it to review its action but if the board again approves its own decision, citizens and even the council itself only has recourse to the courts.
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