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Supervisors OK NW Winnebago County wind farm

FOREST CITY | The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors has approved a resolution to allow EDF Renewables to build 31 wind turbines between Buffalo Center and Rake.

“It’s a tough decision,” said Supervisor Terry Durby at the Oct. 9 board of supervisors meeting.

The wind farm project will benefit the entire county because of the increase in the tax base, according to Durby.

He also said small family farmers who have the wind turbines built on their land will receive much-needed additional income from EDF.

However, he noted some residents fear the noise from the turbines and other issues will lower their quality of life.

Supervisor Bill Jensvold has asked people who live in the proposed wind farm area what they think of the project.

He said half of them are in favor of the wind farm and half are against it.

Jensvold said someone who lives in the proposed area for the wind farm told him that “charlatans from the Twin Cities” are making promises they can’t keep, and it’s mostly absentee landlords who are getting a lot of income from having turbines built on their land.

The individual also told Jensvold he’s concerned about the possibility of noise and flashing lights from the wind farm.

Jensvold said he can see the positive side of having more wind turbines in the county, but “I feel bad for him, too.”

James Scott, project development manager with EDF, which is also planning to build turbines in eastern Kossuth County as part of the wind farm, said company officials are doing what they can to minimize the impact.

Scott said the blades for some of the turbines will have noise-reducing technology.

EDF is even offering $1,000 a year or $25 per acre – whichever is larger – to all those who live within a mile of the wind farm, according to Scott.

He said a lot of homeowners in Rake and Lakota are responding to this offer.

The supervisors unanimously approved the resolution allowing the wind farm.

Wind farms are allowed as special exceptions in districts in the county zoned for agricultural use, but the board of adjustment and the board of supervisors must give their approval before construction begins.

Following a public hearing on Sept. 18, the board of adjustment voted 4-1 on a resolution allowing EDF to build the wind farm.

The resolution sets out the rules EDF must follow, including the following setback requirements for individual wind turbines:

• 600 feet or 110 percent of the total height of the tower – whichever is greater – from adjacent property lines, confinement feeding operation buildings, public road right-of-ways, and public conservation areas.

• 1,600 feet from occupied residences, occupied non-residential buildings, and city limits.

The resolution also addresses shadow flicker, which occurs when the blades of a turbine pass in front of the sun to create a recurring shadow.

If any shadow flicker affects any adjoining property owner outside the boundaries of the wind farm, EDF must remedy the problem on a case-by-case basis by undertaking measures such as planting trees or other vegetation, installing awnings, or possible operation restrictions.