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Passion runs deep over wind turbines

With 12 landowners in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors listened to more concerns and comments on the proposed wind turbines going up in the county as well as receiving an update from Invenergy Representative, Mark Zaccone.

Zaccone began by telling the Supervisors that three landowners have come forward with some concerns and Invenergy is working with those landowners. He stated that by the end of the week the company should have made contact with them so Invenergy can better understand their issues.

“One of them is the airport, I hope?” Supervisor Linus Solberg said.

“As a public airport, that one in particular is now in FAA’s (Federal Aviation Administration) so whatever they come back with in their report will tell us if there are issues or not,” Zaccone replied.

“So these objections or whatever you want to call them are on lines or towers or whatever?” Supervisor Craig Merrill asked.

“The third one is Rich Berkland and I think he’s got one tower in particular that he’s talking about now. They’ve been going back and forth and I think they are trying to actually go out and meet with him,” Zaccone said.

“Do we want to be involved with that Keith?” Merrill questioned.

“That’s how we set it up,” Zaccone said. “At this point, we don’t know of any issue the County has and the ‘Roads Agreement” I think will be handled by the end of the week.”

“It’s the idea of having 11 of them within a mile of my house that I am a little concerned about,” Landowner Tom Stillman stated. “And one of them putting out noise that they say, at 48 decibels, the closest one to the house is 1,500 feet.

“Brownlees have six of them on their 400 and some acres just east of me. I’m in the middle of the thing. They can’t get that close to the road and I’m right up to the road with my house. So I have six of them to the east of me and three to the west, so you tell me if I’m going to get any sleep ever again. You guys are concerned about it. I hope I get through the fall […] I’m concerned about all 170 of them,” Stillman continued.

Later in the meeting, Tilford Egland and Lois Stillman spoke to the Supervisors voicing their concerns over the landscape, farm ground and health issues.

“My first question is how many turbines are going up in these four townships?” Landowner Tillford Egland asked.

“170,” Keith Wirtz, Supervisor Chairman responded.

Egland went on to question why the area residents were not allowed to vote on whether they wanted wind turbines within the four townships.

“Remember the farmers working in the fields to produce crops for the process and are approved for both livestock and people, are the ones that are being affected by the nuisance of the sight of the turbines, not the absentee landowners. That’s discrimination,” Egland said. “Many research conclusions say that a wind turbine should not be place closer than one-mile from a residence and much of the research is from the medical field. If it is proven that a person’s health is harmed by the closeness of a wind turbine. Are you prepared to hand out millions of dollars in damages?

“Subsidies are scheduled to run out or cease by 2023 […] Why let all the hatred between former friends, neighbors, family members and especially against the Board, who we trusted to lead this County, come into being? Bitterness will last forever and you people are the ones who let it get started by submitting to the wind turbine company,” Egland continued. “Those landowners seem to be blind by the dollar signs and maybe you Supervisors are also by letting the wind turbines destroy the land and the neighborly harmony as well as the beaucolic effect of the county.

“If you were voted into office by the residents of this county because they thought you would use some common sense on your decisions. By the outcry of anti-wind turbine residents of the county, how can you, after they elected you, turn on them and then kick them under the bus? Do you really think that any of you will be voted back into the office that your hold?”

“If there was more people that didn’t want this, there wouldn’t have been the sign up there is,” Merrill stated.

“And do you know who did most of the signing up?” Landowner, Lois Stillman asked.

“Absentee landowners,” Tom Stillman replied.

“I don’t determine who owns the land,” Merrill stated.

“We remain neutral. We put an ordinance into place. We think a good ordinance and that is all we control,” Wirtz said. “People do have rights. Everybody has rights on both sides and we thought we did a good ordinance.”

“We have the decommissioning also,” Supervisor Roger Faulstick pointed out.

“We have the decommissioning agreement. We have the first separation distance,” Wirtz added. “We tried to lookout for everybody on both sides and remain neutral.”

“I appreciate these people coming in and speaking with passion,” Supervisor Linus Solberg said.

With further discussion, it was reminded to people that there is a public meeting on Thursday, October 5 where the public will have the opportunity to once again voice their opinions.