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Brown County commissioners hear wind farm concerns from citizens

The Brown County commission meeting was held at the Brown County courthouse on Monday, Jan. 14, and was attended by 20 to 25 citizens who voiced their concerns regarding the construction of the Invenergy wind farm project in northwest Brown County.

One of those concerned citizens, Ben Swinger of Morrill, was on the meeting’s agenda. Commissioner Keith Olsen informed the crowd that Commissioner Dwight Kruse would not be in attendance at the meeting, and as a result of that there would be no decisions made that day.

“The county has not signed any agreements with the wind turbine company,” Olsen said. “Our county attorney Kevin Hill has stated that we would not be signing any agreements with the wind company until next summer at the earliest. The wind company has not even approached us yet.”

Olsen opened up the floor for comments before Swinger took the floor.

Rural Fairview resident Amy Kopp stated that she is concerned about the safety, health and welfare of county residents and would like to see one-mile setbacks from any homestead and one quarter of a mile from any property lines for any wind turbine that would be erected.

Swinger presented his concerns on the wind farm project to the commissioners and the crowd. His presentation dealt with noise levels, infrasound, flicker effects, property setbacks, and wear and tear on county roads and bridges.

“I would like to see one-mile setbacks put into place from non-participating landowners and residents,” Swinger said. “I am concerned about the effect on our roads, and will the townships be provided money for fixing up the roads if they are damaged? Does the wind company have the right to trench in the road right-of-way?”

Swinger also stated a concern regarding property devaluation as a result of wind turbines coming in, and pointed out that some construction already has begun in the county.

Hill stated that, even though some construction has begun in the county, no turbines can be erected until a conditional use permit agreement with Invenergy has been signed.

According to Hill, the county is in the process of hiring an engineering firm to advise the county about all of the science involved with the wind turbines. They will advise the county on what setbacks should be put in place and would be acceptable to landowners.

“The engineering firm will be working for the county and not the wind company,” Hill said. “Those setbacks that are put in place must be able to hold up in court.”

The next commission meeting will be held on Monday, Jan. 28. Engineering firms and Invenergy representatives will be present at this meeting. Olsen urged all concerned citizens to attend the meeting.