A group of about 18 people attended the last Clay County Supervisor’s meeting, where they sought answers regarding planned wind turbines in Clay County.
“My family chose to live in northwest Iowa because of the peace and quiet that we have here. On our farm we have deer, pheasants, turkey, ducks and geese, and one of the eight eagle’s nests in Clay County is on our farm. We also have a purple martin colony on our farm. … Has the board discussed the affects on the wildlife, and what have you decided to do about it?” Tom Goekes said.
“Yes. I did happen to sit in on the environmental meeting that APEX held over at Everly here a couple weeks ago and listened to that … in terms of locating and where they locate the towers to the best of their ability, and are aware of the concerns of a number of people. … What’s the closest tower to the property that you own?” Burlin Matthews, 2017 Clay County supervisor chairman, said.
An audience member in the back shouted out that 1,200 feet from a residence is the requirement in current Clay County ordinance.
“This is what I need to hear, and I don’t know how many of you are faced with that,” Matthews said.
A call for hands was made, and around five people in the group raised their hands to the voluntary count. Matthews asked that members of the group pick up copies of the zoning ordinances from the planning and zoning department.
“You can read through the county zoning ordinances that are talking about setbacks and some things like that and other issues that deal with those. You probably need to have your hands on those things,” Matthews said.
Matthews explained the financial aspect of wind turbines, and thanked the community for coming out to address their concerns.
“The side of this that you may not grasp is that we’re looking for businesses to come into our community for increasing our tax base so that we don’t have to see property taxes on everybody go up as things move along, and we have to increase that tax base somehow. If you have a better solution, the community here said we don’t want a casino, don’t want a packing plant, some of the community is saying they don’t want wind towers, and I’m not sure exactly what we’re going to do for Clay County, so we appreciate your input into this, because I know there’s other people that feel differently about this,” Matthews said.
Audience members raised concerns that without examination and ordinance change, there would be damaging effects to their neighbors and property. Matthews mentioned that Barry Sackett, assistant county attorney, was looking into neighboring counties and their ordinances and possible ordinance change.
“(We’re looking at) Kossuth, Palo Alto and Dickinson. … we’re taking a hard look at what we’ve got and what they’ve got, what’s working for them and what’s working for us, that’s why we’re glad you’re here, to give us your opinion and what you’re thinking about regarding our current ordinance,” Sackett said.
David Lux, of Everly, asked the supervisors to consider the impact the wind turbines will have on the rural community in Clay County.
“Why should we suffer, and deal with the noise, and the lights? … I’ve put everything into my acreage, and now I don’t have the serenity of my acreage. My closest neighbor is a mile away, and for all of a sudden these windmills, 1,250 feet from my house, would be the most destructive thing imaginable. … I’m just sick to my stomach about it. I’m hoping that you guys can do something, if you can’t stop them, lets work on the setbacks away from our acreage. Let’s go study how close we can hear these things. If it’s three-quarters of a mile away and you can hear them, that’s too close to shove it next to a person like me. … The amount of people here is small because we’re a mile away from each other, but we gotta sit here and think about the setbacks and how close we shove them to people like me that are enjoying Clay County, our beautiful area, (because) to throw these in (will) ruin these acreages and in my mind end my life,” Lux said.
[Jannna] Swanson, of the Coalition for Rural Property Rights, also made an appearance to the supervisor board to share information regarding current national changes in setbacks regarding wind turbines and raised concern over any rights infringement that wind turbines might cause for Clay County’s rural property owners.
Matthews addressed the number of concerns raised by the various members of the group that showed up.
“You have given us some information that some of us don’t have today, so we appreciate that a whole bunch, and we still have some work to do here, when it comes to the zoning side of it. Thank you for being here, and thank you for sharing your information with us,” Matthews said. “We’ll take into consideration your thinking today.”
The board later met with a representative of APEX, to discuss some of the concerns raised earlier at the meeting. The board commented that there would need to be more deliberation, information and discussion at a later time.
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