DAKOTA CITY – The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors approved the first reading of a wind tower ordinance at Monday’s meeting.
The reading came after months of work and meetings by the board and following a period for public comments Monday which went on for 90 minutes. The meeting was moved to the courtroom to handle the crowd of 30 people who showed up. At least 15 people voiced their opinions.
Board Chairman Bruce Reimers said before he came on the board the previous board directed Humboldt County Economic Development Director Alissa O’Connor to make inquiries with wind farm companies about the possibility of coming to Humboldt County. While no supervisors have been contacted, O’Connor and a handful of residents have been contacted by companies.
The board has reviewed the ordinances of 25 other counties and has compiled the information into an ordinance of its own.
Several landowners voiced opposition to the wind towers, citing possible decrease in property values, noise levels, and reflections from the blades.
The supervisors said allowing the wind towers is up to the landowners themselves. The wind farms will not come in if they do not find enough interested landowners. Some landowners said the three year contracts proposed by the companies go too far in restricting the landowners’ rights.
Supervisor Carl Mattes said the landowners need to read the contracts carefully. He added that the board is not involved in the contracts.
The county cannot regulate how a landowner uses their property, landowner Jim Crabtree said. He thanked the board for the months of research and meetings it has put into the ordinance. Without an ordinance the county would have no protection whatsoever, he said.
Some landowners suggested the board increase the setback distances from residences. However, others said that would disqualify the smaller farms from accepting the towers.
It was also recommended the board decrease the noise level to 45 decibels at the nearest structure or use occupied by humans. The ordinance sets a 60 decibel limit. Some counties have 60; others have 45. The board felt 60 decibels was adequate.
Tom Wilson said he had a number of exotic animals on his farm that are very sensitive to noise as do other farmers. He thought the 60 decibel noise limit was too high.
The newer generators are much quieter, but some of the older models can exceed 60 decibels, landowner Mark Thompson said. Some landowners are very interested in the opportunity to increase their income with wind towers, he said. He didn’t want the board to deny those landowners that opportunity.
“I have family members that are very interested and I have landowners that I farm for that are very interested,” he said.
If the contracts are not to their liking they have the right not to sign them, but they would like to have that opportunity, Thompson said.
Reimers said despite the state lowering the tax rate on the towers from 30 to 27 percent, the income from the towers would be significant for the county.
“How many of you would want to pay higher taxes?” he asked the crowd. There were no takers.
Supervisor Erick Underberg said he would like to see something put in the ordinance about what happens if contracts are sold. If a company wants to sell the contracts and assets they need to come before the Board of Supervisors as written in other county ordinances, he said.
Following the discussion, the board approved the first reading.
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