A group of concerned residents packed into a Stark County Courthouse conference room Tuesday morning in Dickinson to express their disapproval of a proposed wind energy project.
The emotional reactions from residents is a result of a proposal from Dickinson Wind LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC of Connecticut, which has requested the Stark County Commission to approve 87 wind turbines that would stretch across Interstate 94 from Gladstone to Richardton.
“I was generally in favor of wind power and probably still am,” Gladstone resident Marv Krank said during the meeting. “But not at this location.”
Krank said he has spent weeks traveling to various wind towers throughout the state. He believes the noise levels towers generate have become a major concern.
“Noise is definitely a problem,” he said. “You can hear the whooshing sound of propellers from several thousand feet away.”
But even more troubling than noise levels, Krank said, was the decrease in land value as a result of wind farms.
“I have been to some of these sites,” he said. “There is zero development in these places. Windows are boarded up at some farms. Community growth has stopped. It looks to me like people do not want to live under the shadow of a wind farm.”
Krank’s concerns were just a few of many issues residents located near the wind farm expressed throughout the meeting.
To address these issues, Gladstone Mayor Kurt Martin said the city is requesting that the Stark County Zoning Board require commercial wind turbines to be set back from city limits by three miles.
Martin also requested the wind turbines be given a maximum one-year permit and that the zoning board implements a property value guarantee.
“We are requesting this because we think it is a killer of these little communities,” Martin said. “Wind towers do not draw people to an area. They drive people away.”
Martin urged commission members to make this decision slowly, working through all of the points and not simply awarding the company approval due to an increase in tax revenue as a result of construction.
While nothing was acted upon, Commissioner Ken Zander said he agreed with concerned residents, adding he shared some of the same concerns with the project.
Commission approves bid for courthouse improvement project
Commissioners approved Scull Construction’s bid for improvements to the Stark County Courthouse.
The commission accepted the $600,000 bid – the lowest proposed – for interior and exterior building renovations.
Jeremy Butman, corporate secretary at Prairie Engineering, said around two-thirds of those funds will be dedicated to improving safety within the courthouse.
He said that will include constructing a clear entrance point at the south side of the building for visitors. The main entry point will be equipped with a metal detector and a screening area. Butman said a second door on the north side of the building will be used as an entrance for employees.
Taylor Fire Department asks for funds to purchase new truck
Volunteer firefighters with the Taylor Fire Department asked the commission for funding to purchase a fire truck to help deal with with response efforts and restrictions created by an aging fleet.
A new truck is estimated to cost around $136,000. The department has collected $80,000 of these funds, but asked the commission to pitch in. Commissioners said they were willing to contribute as much as $50,000, contingent upon funding that is received from other entities.
Volunteers said they would like to purchase a Ford F-550 Casey truck, which is equipped with a 500-gallon freshwater tank, an eight-gallon foam tank, storage and auxiliary lighting.
Bids approved for paving project
Commissioners motioned to approve two bid proposals for the resurfacing of 116th Avenue Southwest, located near Exit 56.
The road is gravel, but is scheduled to be paved due to increased traffic.
The commission is looking to pursue a $1.6 million bid from Century Companies Inc., a Montana-based company.
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