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Citizens, supervisors engage in further turbine discussions

During Tuesday’s Clay County Board of Supervisors meeting, the discussion of planned turbines in the northwest part of the county drew more than 60 citizens to hear discussions and opinions presented. Also present during the discussion were Apex Clean Energy representatives and a board member from the Coalition of Rural Property Rights. Supervisors heard from multiple citizens regarding concerns and opinions both for and against the planned turbines. County resident Jerry Crew got the discussion started.

“I’m opposed to wind turbines. … To me, the biggest (concern) is property value. This is something that is my livelihood, farming and everything else. … If government subsidies stopped today, there’d be zero turbines put up, and over the life of that turbine, the amount of fossil fuels spent in the construction, maintenance, transmission lines, backup power lines … it’s a net loss of fossil fuel over the life of the project. … If you want to get the input of the citizens of the county, put a survey out. Survey all the residents of the county, especially the rural residents, and ask them the question, ‘Do you want a wind turbine?’” Crew suggested. “If I had my way I’d say 100 miles (as a setback), but obviously that isn’t reasonable. I would prefer not even having wind turbines at all in the county.”

“So am I supposed to send a survey out on everything that somebody wants to do on their ground, to see what the majority of Clay County wants to do? As long as somebody was within the rights of what the state law says, I guess I struggle a little bit with that. … Where do we draw the line?” Clay County Supervisor Barry Anderson asked.

Another county resident, Betsy Schoelerman also spoke during the session, asking the supervisors to consider various ways turbines could effect Clay County citizens.

“I’m proud to have grown up in Clay County, and I want to raise my family and my children in the same peaceful lifestyle that I’m accustomed to. I don’t want to have to worry about shadow flicker, noise, lights or the visual pollution that the turbines provide. I, and these people here today, are urging you to listen to our voices,” Schoelerman said. “With the current setback requirements that you have, we’re very concerned that it’s going to affect us through the sound. … My sister and her husband live in Franklin County, which I believe several of you toured several weeks ago. The noise is a significant issue. … It’s my right to live in peace, and I’m concerned about the noise and the shadow flicker and the potential health issues.”

“What would you consider reasonable setbacks?” Clay County Supervisor Dan Skelton asked.

“We’d ask for a mile, I know that’s pretty far reaching, but … we can come to a compromise,” Schoelerman continued.

Further issues presented by various speakers centered around aerial spray concerns, tile damage concerns, decommissioning issues and possible dangers to the public via construction of the turbines.

Matthews commented on the fact that many statements and some information presented both at Tuesday’s meeting and during prior meetings conflicted with each other.

“Folks, what we’re sitting here listening to (from) you, as well as from other parties that we listen to, are diametrically opposed to each other. It’s difficult for us to take and make decisions based on the facts that we’re hearing from two different groups. From the scientific group that we’re coming up with, to the emotional type of things you’re bringing to us, we understand that. It’s not easy for us,” Matthews said.

Supervisors also heard from Connie Dykstra-Swan, of Terrell, who compared various technological advancements with the ire received by citizens in the past.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. … When the first telephone line criss-crossed the landscape it was beauty to those who would make use of that technology, but bane and blight to many of that generation who would never dream of picking up the telephone. Fifty years ago the only red flashing light in the county belonged to the KICD radio station. … then a plethora of cellphone towers and television relay towers began to quietly spring up and very little was said. The massive power line that recently cut across the county stands sentinel to our need of energy. The Dutch, the Danes, the Germans have been successfully farming the wind for generations. Iowa has an abundance of corn and wind. I’m grateful we’re not at the point that the government has taken ownership of the wind and at least farmers can reap some of the harvest. To (me), wind turbines constitute blessing and beauty,” Dykstra-Swan said.

After discussion had closed, supervisors revisited the issues brought to them during the session. The supervisors noted that they would do further investigation regarding the issues presented, specifically noting the concerns regarding aerial application and the decommissioning of wind turbines. No action was taken during the supervisors’ meeting, with future discussion and potential action possible at a future meeting.