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Wind farm hits a big road block

Plans for a wind farm in Douglas County ran into a big problem Monday night after Newman Township voted to create a zoning ordinance.

More than 100 people packed a special meeting. This change could set stricter rules for wind farms and would be a big setback for the EDP Renewable Energy company. They’ve already spent about $10,000,000 on the project, but they didn’t plan for this.

Newman Township is surrounded by farmland. Gary Luth says, “It’s a very beautiful setting. I live on top of a ridge and they’re going to dot the things all over in there.”

EDP Renewable Energy plans to transform much of that land into a wind farm. For more than a year they’ve been planning under the Douglas County zoning ordinance.

EDP project manager Amy Kurt says, “We have almost 100 land owners that have signed on and more than 10,000 acres of land.”

But those people were outnumbered by many who don’t want to see this happen. On Tuesday night, Newman Township residents voted 86 yes – 57 no to create a zoning ordinance that would create new rules for their land.

EDP says this is big problem for them. Kurt says, “It creates a bunch of uncertainty around how you would build a wind farm. We’ve been working on this project for several years.”

Some say they don’t have a problem with the wind farm because they see value in renewable energy.
Nathan House says, “I think we’re lucky they chose this area.”

But there are some who value their property more. Luth says, “It bothers me that they’re allowed to put the towers so close to peoples homes. Currently Douglas County has a setback requirement for an occupied residence of only 1000 feet.“

Luth is one of the farmers EDP asked to lease land. He turned them down. Others said they don’t like the look of wind turbines and they’re concerned about the potential of declining property values. But EDP says this would bring more pros than cons.

“Our wind farm will bring more than $2,000,000 in property taxes to serve the local schools, the local fire district, the library and other important public services in this community.”

Despite that, Tuesday night’s decision means this company has a lot to lose.

Newman township board will appoint five zoning commissioners who will write the ordinance and present the plan to the city council for approval.

This wind farm also affects land in Murdock Township. They’ll be making a similar zoning decision at their meeting next week.