Palo Alto County Zoning Administrator Joe Neary presented the Site Plan Application and Approval Permit filed by Invenergy Company to the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during their regular meeting on Tuesday, September 5. Also present during this meeting were Palo Alto County Attorney Peter Hart, Dean Gunderson, Cynthia Berkland, Janna Swanson and Invenergy’s, Mark Zaccone.
“We are sharing some information today. On Thursday, August 31, I received electronic copies of the site plan and approval permit,” Neary said. “I sent everyone a heads-up on Friday morning. The hard copy is sitting in Mason City and should be here today.”
“What time did the e-mail come in on Thursday?” Supervisor Craig Merrill asked.
“It came in at 5:44 p.m.,” Neary replied.
“Does it make a difference if it is during business hours or not?” Merrill questioned.
“It’s after business hours so it would technically go to the next day, September 1,” Hart said. “So we would have 60 days to hold a meeting and then 30 days after that to approve or reject.”
“Will there be a large map or will it be individual pages?” Merrill questioned.
“We can provide a large map,” Zaccone responded.
“I think we need to have one for the public meeting,” Merrill stated.
“How many actual units are you building now? Supervisor Roger Faulstick asked.
“There will be 170 built with eight to ten optional sites,” Zaccone stated.
“It is my understanding that the secondary roads agreement is still being worked on correct?” Palo Alto County Engineer Walter Davis-Oeth questioned.
“Correct, it has to be done before approval is given,” Neary stated.
“So Peter, we do have a decommissioning agreement signed by them or are we going to wait to approve all of this to get one?” Supervisor Linus Solberg asked.
“It should be included with the application,” Hart said.
“You won’t take action until everything is submitted properly,” Neary explained.
“There is an appendix included on decommissioning,” Supervisor Chairman Keith Wirtz said.
“We have discussed how to go through the application and make sure that everything is included and I think Peter agreed that we should be able to do this in-house with just him and I and a Supervisor or two,” Neary said.
“How defined will the map be? Will it show each turbine and electrical lines, etc.?” Merrill asked.
“I should be able to get a wall map that will show the turbine location and all wiring throughout the project,” Zaccone stated. “It should be to scale.”
“I’m curious, there are a lot of problems that people have with wind turbines as far as infrasound and sound, things like that, right,” Janna Swanson, Board Member for the Coalition of Rural Property Rights asked.
“Those are not proven. Infrasound is not,” Zaccone answered.
“OK, so you are saying that all the stories, all the books and all the movies that have been created about things like this, people are just lying?” Swanson questioned.
“They are fabricating,” Zaccone said.
“So do you believe that?” Swanson asked,
“Do you have a specific question, Janna?” Merrill asked.
“I’m asking, that was the question, do you believe that all the stories are fabricated?” Swanson asked.
“No, I do not believe that,” Merrill responded.
“OK, so what is our plan if that happens to people, because if they go to them (the wind energy company), they are just going to give them money and then they will have to sign an agreement where they are not allowed to talk about it,” Swanson continued. “There are people in Iowa who have those agreements. So, if that happens what is your plan to protect your citizens?”
“Nobody is forcing anyone to sign anything,” Merrill stated.
“But the ordinance reads that the negative impacts can go onto people who are not participating,” Swanson said. “Because 1,500 feet doesn’t cut it.”
“It what way doesn’t it cut it?” Merrill asked.
“Have you been on the Coalition website?” Swanson asked. “Obviously, he’s [Zaccone] going to say that everything is fabricated. I’ve talked to a lot of people in Iowa that have these problems and you are going to say that all of them are making it up.”
You might be putting your citizens in some type of danger or ruining their homes, how are you going to deal with that?” Swanson continued.
“I have talked with other Supervisors that have windmills within their counties. I asked them specifically if they are getting calls regarding shadow flicker, etc.,” Wirtz responded. “First one that comes to mind is a person from Grundy Center who said no the only problem they have is with secondary roads.”
“That’s who they call if they have problems, is the Supervisors,” Wirtz continued.
“They also call me,” Swanson said.
“We did they best we could to make it fair to both parties,” Wirtz said.
“It’s not fair to both,” Swanson said.
“Some people want them and that is their right,” Wirtz said.
‘No it’s not their right,” Swanson replied.
“Janna, that’s your opinion it’s not fair to both,” Merrill stated. “Everyone has the right to their opinion.”
“Of course, and you are trying to shut mine down,” Swanson said.
“No, not at all,” Merrill said.
“I’m saying if they could keep the negative impacts on their land then there wouldn’t be a problem,” Swanson claimed. “But the negative impacts obviously go over their land and that is why you had to have the ordinance that says people have to live with 50 decibels through the night.”
“If the noise from the wind turbines was that big of an issue with as many as we have in Iowa, don’t you think we would hear more about it?” Merrill asked.
With further discussion, It was determined that an informational meeting should be held at the VFW in Emmetsburg on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. for public comments.
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