With a packed meeting room watching Tuesday, the Davison County Planning Commission narrowly voted to deny a proposed wind turbine project between Mitchell and Mount Vernon.
After two-and-a-half hours of testimony from both of Davison County Wind, LLC’s supporters and its naysayers, the commission voted 4-3 against granting conditional use permits for a nine-turbine project in Beulah Township, primarily on the land of Brad and Peggy Greenway. About 60 people crowded into the county commission room for the meeting at the Davison County North Offices in Mitchell.
The vote only serves as a recommendation for the Davison County commissioners, who will consider the project when they gather as the county’s Board of Adjustment at 9:15 a.m. on April 10 in the same meeting room.
The motion on all nine turbines failed 4-3, with those voting in favor of the project including Lewis Bainbridge, Chuck Storm and Steve Thiesse. Voting against the project were Kim Weitala, Brenda Bode, Bruce Haines and Gary Stadlman.
It serves as another blow to the project, which has origins to late 2015 when it was first presented before the county’s planning commission. At that point, the board voted 7-0 in favor, sending it to the county commissioners. They ultimately nixed the project in 2016.
In all, 17 members of the public spoke during the public input portion of the meeting, with 10 voicing opposition and seven in support of the project.
Many of the opponents were neighbors, who – among other reasons – argued that the project would hurt property values in the area. Supporters included wind technology students from Mitchell Technical Institute, area residents concerned about energy security and pricing and trade groups, including the South Dakota Farmers Union and South Dakota Renewable Energy Association.
The project is being driven by Con Edison Development, a subsidiary of the large energy company Consolidated Edison. The company bought Juhl Energy, which previously attempted to develop a wind project on the same land in 2017.
Con Edison has plans to make the Davison County project part of three in the region, along with wind projects in Aurora and Brule counties. Those projects, which are expected to get underway later this year, are located south of White Lake and Kimball, respectively.
The majority of the Davison wind turbines are to be placed along 251st Street and in a three-mile stretch between 400th and 403rd avenues. Each of the turbines has a structure height of 453 feet – measuring from the tower’s base to the tip of the blade at its highest point.
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