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Supervisors meet with Optimum Renewables to discuss wind generation facts

INDEPENDENCE – Buchanan County Supervisors Gary Gissel, Don Shonka and Ellen Gaffney met in regular session Monday to discuss wind generation facts with representatives from Optimum Renewables and Impact 7G.

Representatives from Optimum Renewables that were present for the meeting were John Booreman and Karson Rumpf; and Mike Fisher from Impact 7G.

The three men requested a meeting with supervisors to alleviate some concerns about wind energy turbines that seem to be prevalent around the town of Fairbank.

Last month a request to rezone 89 acres from A1 to A2 for the purpose of constructing three small wind turbines for a small wind energy development was denied by supervisors for several reasons. Primarily, due to the site’s proximity to the town of Fairbank and a high CSR rating, but also due to the fact that some residents in Fairbank had some real concerns about the proposed site.

This Monday’s discussion commenced due to Optimum Renewables desire to share some facts about wind energy development, at another location between Fairbank and Hazleton (Sec. 7, Fairbank Township; approximately 4.5 miles southeast of Fairbank and 2.5 miles from Hazleton.) Owners of the property are in favor of constructing a small wind turbine at that location, and have requested rezoning the parcel from A1 to A2.

Concerns for the small wind energy development remain the same: Proximity to towns, noise, and impacts on livestock, birds and bats.

According to the three representatives the location of the new site should be far enough away from communities to have no impact on residents. To date, there have been no documented impacts on livestock and birds for smaller –sized turbines, like the one being proposed. But they did admit that bats could potentially have some difficulty regarding pressure changes, but probably unlikely, they said.

Also present for discussion was James Quinn of the GIS/E911 department and Buchanan County Conservation Director Dan Cohen.

Quinn was concerned that the turbine could interfere with microwaves from the Hazleton and Fairbank communication towers; and Cohen wanted reassurance that the proposed site would not be near the Fairbank Fen or a wildlife area. Representatives were able to put the above concerns to rest.

The Buchanan County Zoning Commission is scheduled to meet on Tuesday evening to vote on the request.

The purpose of the wind turbine installation is to eventually sell energy to Alliant.

Supervisors also accepted the resignation of Melanie Jencks, a mental health advocate in the Community Services department, effective Sept. 2, 2015.

Following acceptance of Jenck’s resignation, Supervisors met with Community Services Director Julie Davison, about hiring someone to fill that vacancy.

Supervisors decided to talk to Assistant County Attorney Michael Hudson before advertising the position, and in the meantime, authorized Davison to contact a mental health advocate about temporarily filling- in during the interim.

In other action:

Minutes of the previous meeting and claims filed with the County Auditor for payment in the amount of $1,017.89 were approved.

Resignation of Conservation Dept. Park Tech Karen Ott, was approved.

Job Description for IT Director was approved.

And a recount request on Hazleton’s special election results was approved.