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Previously rejected wind farm eyes new location near Dunkerton

A Des Moines-based energy company is proposing to build a three-turbine wind farm northeast of Dunkerton.

Optimum Renewables, on behalf of Mason Wind LLC, was shot down last month on a similar request to develop the first industrial wind towers in Black Hawk County.

The county’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment, facing heavy opposition from area residents, both overwhelmingly rejected special permits for the project near the Black Hawk-Buchanan County line.

The company immediately filed a new request to erect the 444-foot-tall towers on farm land just over a mile northeast of Dunkerton, near the intersection of East Bennington and Wheeler roads.

Planning and Zoning Commission members were expected to hold a public hearing on the request Tuesday. But Zoning Administrator Shane Graham said the company asked to move the hearing to the Oct. 20 commission meeting so it had more time to gather information.

Planning and Zoning would then make a recommendation to the Board of Adjustment, which would hold another hearing Oct. 27 and make a final determination on the special permit.

Otpimum Renewables is attempting to develop the three wind towers, which would generate six megawatts of power for an Alliant Energy substation at the Flint Hills Resources ethanol plant just east of Fairbank.

The company was rejected at two sites in Fayette County and a site in Buchanan County before losing an Aug. 25 bid to build the turbines along Black Hawk-Buchanan Road just north of Buck Creek Road.

Opponents of the previous site said the turbines would take agricultural land out of production, lower surrounding property values, hinder farming operations and kill birds and other wildlife.

Others feared the towers were a health risk to humans and livestock, a claim Optimum Renewables representatives said was not supported by any legitimate research or studies.

The county Board of Supervisors in 2011 amended its zoning ordinance to allow industrial wind turbines and set up guidelines for their development. The supervisors voted within the last year to extend property tax incentives to encourage wind farm development in the unincorporated areas of the county.