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Wind farm owners appeal to county commission  

Credit:  Argus Leader | February 24, 2015 | www.argusleader.com ~~

A wind farm proposal cut short by a zoning board’s decision to side with a well-organized opposition last week has appealed its case to the full Lincoln County Commission.

Dakota Power Community Wind filed its appeal Tuesday, according to Lincoln County Planning and Zoning Director Paul Asleson.

The company had applied to place five meteorological towers throughout south Lincoln County, but the zoning board denied five conditional-use permit applications in the face of heavy opposition.

The towers were meant to test the wind capacity of the area in hopes of attracting investors to what could be a wind farm with as many as 500 turbines. Company representatives said the towers were the first step, and that it would take as long as three years before the next phase of the project could begin.

The opponents built a nonprofit organization since the company was permitted for a single tower one year ago. They cite concerns over property values, public health and the hazard to birds as sticking points.

The company’s appeal will appear on the agenda for the Lincoln County Commission’s March 3 meeting, but the commission would only schedule a public hearing at that time, said Lincoln County Deputy State’s Attorney Mike Nadolski.

The hearing on Dakota Power’s permits, which would essentially be a repeat of the planning and zoning hearing and include testimony from both sides, would come later in the month.

“Because this particular issue has garnered a lot of attention, they’ll probably look at scheduling a hearing in the evening,” Nadolski said.

The county commission could approve the permits, deny them or approve them with extra conditions. At that point, whichever side loses would be able to appeal the decision to circuit court.

Commissioner Jim Schmidt hasn’t taken a position on the wind project but said this week that the 200-square-mile project envisioned by Dakota Power Community Wind has generated significant controversy in the quickly growing county.

“Whatever decision we make on this thing, it’s probably going to court,” Schmidt said.

Source:  Argus Leader | February 24, 2015 | www.argusleader.com

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