Following a public hearing attended by 25 people, the Dix town board chose to not take action on the proposed wind farm regulations Monday, April 27. Residents from both inside and outside the town of Dix voiced their concerns, which ranged from health and wildlife impacts to property values and setbacks. While the board could have taken action to adopt the measure, Supervisor Harold Russell said there is still more information he would like the board to get before voting, especially concerning the possible negative effects a wind turbine can have on a neighbor’s property.
“We have tried to cover all our bases, but we aren’t done yet,” Russell said. “We can’t ban them or make a law that is too restrictive. We are walking a line between no legislation and too much.”
This comes as a response to a proposed wind farm project by NextEra energy to place some 50 to 75 turbines in Dix and the town of Catlin. Russell said he believed Catlin would have most of the turbines, adding once Catlin decided to try to drop out, he did not think the plan would move ahead without them. He said Catlin was looking at a possible ban, but said now they are looking at a smaller scale.
Town attorney David English said the regulations do not focus on any specific plan, but instead regulated any wind farm project to enter the town. Russell added he would be recusing himself from the vote because he is on the initial map of properties by NextEra. Russell said the town has been working on these regulations for the past two to three years, adding attempting to ban wind farms entirely is not an option. He said the town is trying to find a balance that will protect residents from developers coming in and doing whatever they want, while also protecting the rights of landowners to have a turbine on their property.
“We can’t just say no, and we can’t just say yes,” Russell said. “Eventually it will be up to the state.”
One topic of discussion included setbacks, with some residents feeling the 1,000-foot setbacks proposed in the law were not enough. Some audience members asked the board to return to the 1,700-foot setback that was initially in the regulation. Russell said finding the right setbacks is “the hardest nut to crack,” adding the board will be looking at them again as they continue to review the proposed law.
“It’s a balancing act in more ways than one,” Russell said. “You can’t just ban it. The state will rule it too restrictive.”
Russell also discussed issues with flicker and vibration associated with wind turbines, while crowd members also brought up birds being killed by windmills and low frequency sound that may cause health issues. Russell said while they were not going to act on the measure Monday, the board wants to get the local law in place soon.
“We are not going to ban it, no matter how much pressure we get,” Russell said. “We will try to find a balance.”
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