Backers and opponents of a 23,000-acre wind farm proposal will appear at a zoning meeting Tuesday in Canton to try and sway commissioners to adopt rules favorable to their side.
Dakota Power Community Wind is trying to drum up support for up to 500 turbines in the rural countryside south of Sioux Falls, but an organized group of opponents has pushed back hard against the possibility of a landscape dotted with massive commercial wind turbines.
Members of We-Care, the opposition group, spent part of Saturday handing out signs bearing a red slash through a wind turbine to landowners.
Tuesday’s meeting is the latest in a long series of workshops designed to re-work the county’s rules for the permitting of everything from commercial hog farms to billboards to mineral extraction. The ordinance was last updated in 2009.
The ordinance update workshops hit a snag when the conversation turned to wind turbines this spring, shortly after the planning commission denied permits for five test towers in February.
The planning commission has proposed a setback of five times a turbine’s height from any structure on a non-participating landowner’s property and a noise limit of 55 decibels at any property line.
We-Care would like to see further setbacks and lower noise threshholds, citing worries about property values, shadow flicker from spinning turbines and concerns over noise. The group also favors compensation for property value loss.
Dakota Power Community Wind’s backers worry that rules too restrictive could make a wind farm development in the county impossible. Dropping the noise threshold to 32 decibels at night, as We-Care proposes, would bar any sound louder than a quiet library.
There have been two workshops on wind tower rules since April. Zoning officials probably won’t vote on a final rules Tuesday, but are expected to hear further arguments from the wind group.
“We’re putting out what we feel is appropriate and right. They will listen to the various arguments, as we always have,” said Paul Aslesen, the county’s planning and zoning chief. “It’s just a matter of commissioners saying ‘we’ve heard what we need to hear’ and making a vote.”
The test towers will have a second shot on May 18. The company has re-applied for a temporary permit for the 180-foot towers, which are designed to gather data for several years as a way to sell investors on the project.
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