DAKOTA CITY – The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors decided to again revise a proposed ordinance governing wind towers at Monday’s meeting.
The board considered approving the first reading of the proposed ordinance Monday which included changes that involve the supervisors more in the application process.
Also, the building permit fee has doubled from $500 to $1,000 per tower. However, additional changes in wording were added.
Humboldt County Economic Development Director Alissa O’Connor suggested the board revise the ordinance’s definition of a “neighboring dwelling unit.” The board agreed, revising the definition to a livable dwelling, and an unoccupied dwelling unit is a dwelling that has been unoccupied for two calendar years or more.
Also, the decommissioning plan which was to be submitted to the farm owners was changed to be submitted to the landowners.
Because of those two changes added Monday the board must go back to the drawing board again and have the first reading again next Monday, Auditor Peggy Rice said.
“If you want any more changes you better do it today,” Supervisor Carl Mattes said.
There were no changes in the setback requirements which remain: 150 feet from property lines; 1,000 feet from neighboring dwelling units; and 600 feet from wildlife management areas, state recreational areas, confinement feeding operation buildings, wetlands, U.S. Fish and Wildlife properties; and one half the rotor diameter from other structures, cemeteries, and river bluffs.
Some landowners have asked the board to increase the setback distances. However, that might disqualify some of the smaller farming operations from accepting the wind towers.
There was no change in the noise limit of 60 decibels at the nearest structure or use occupied by humans. Some landowners felt the noise limit was too high.
The majority of the board felt the setback distances and noise limit were in line with what had been approved in several other counties.
Landowner Thomas Wilson asked the board to at least read the studies on adverse health effects from the wind towers which he brought. He was afraid his small farm might end up being surrounded by the towers. Even the wind farm companies recommend setback distances greater than in the ordinance, he said.
“I’ve said this many times. I think we’ve gained a little. I don’t think we’ve gained enough with what we came up with on this ordinance,” Supervisor Erik Underberg said. “A lot of it has to do with the setbacks and distances, maybe a couple of other things.”
Written in the ordinance is a clause whereby the distances can be waived if both parties are agreeable.
“The smaller landowners have the ability to waive those distances,” Underberg said.
The board approved the changes with Underberg casting the sole vote against them. Written as such, the ordinance offers very little protection to the neighboring landowners, he said.
“It does not, as I said before, set the bar very high” as far as distances and the noise level, he said. He would like to see minimum of 600 feet distance from property lines. His recommendations were not added.
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