(Clarinda) – Page County Supervisor Chairman Chuck Morris had law enforcement notified when a debate with Kalen Fulk Nov. 10 about wind turbines became more emotional than Morris was comfortable.
A Page County Sheriff Deputy and Clarinda Police Department officer arrived minutes later, although by that time there was no need for law enforcement to be involved.
Leading up to the moment, Jesse Stimson, Ryan Urkoski and Kalen Fulk, who have consistently been critical of the county’s preparations for wind turbines to be erected in the county, spoke to the supervisors. Stimson again requested the county sponsor a public meeting about property rights in relation to wind turbines, with an emphasis on non-participating landowners. The three have told the supervisors they don’t think the county has attempted to represent both sides of the issue.
“The three of you sit here and lie to the public stating that the ’19 ordinance was put into place because we had no protection,” said Urkoski. “The ’19 ordinance was written to favor wind production and run over the non-participating landowner.” In October 2019, supervisors approved an ordinance stating regulations for location and operation of wind turbines.
Urkoski explained how during the supervisors Oct. 27 meeting they were asked for a non-participating landowner, property-rights forum. He added Herzberg and Morris said they could not discuss it since it was not an agenda item. Urkoski then said he could not find any agenda approval stating the Oct. 13 supervisors meeting with representatives from wind-turbine related companies.
“If you couldn’t make the decision at the meeting last week when asked by Stimson because you stated it was not on the agenda, where did you guys discuss and approve your wind infomercial forum,” Urkoski asked.
Supervisor Jon Herzberg said the decision to build is put on the landowners.
“It’s not government’s position to decide who puts up turbines. It’s landowners,” he said.
Fulk said the Oct. 13 meeting was to show the county’s support for wind turbines.
“You, you and you put on the pro meeting, the infomercial for wind,” he firmly said stepping from behind the podium and pointing to Herzberg, Morris and (supervisor) Alan Armstrong. “That’s all it was.”
Armstrong attended the Nov. 10 meeting remotely because he is in a Covid 19 quarantine.
“You put it on as the government. You guys are the board of supervisors. You put that on as the government. You tell me it’s not the government’s responsibility,” Fulk said with emotion.
Morris then pounded the gavel and asked Auditor Melissa Wellhausen to notify law enforcement. He also told Fulk to “cool down.”
Armstrong read a social-media message he received from someone he didn’t identify who was appreciative for the county’s efforts.
“I know the windmills have been a hot topic that has led to many heated discussions, but we have really appreciated the board trying to show both sides. It’s unfortunate that all anyone hears is the loudest voice. We personally haven’t made our decision on accepting a contract for the wind project, but the fact that we can make the decision ourselves is our right as landowners.”
Armstrong made the motion to have the supervisors sponsor the meeting. Herzberg second. The three supervisors each voted no.
Morris said the supervisors are involved in figuring out COVID mitigation plus other issues in the near future.
“And it’s going to be changing as Jon is going to be retiring,” he said about the board. “And we will be headlong into budgets immediately into the new year and new board. I believe we have more pressing matters than to spend more time and energy to organize a meeting.”
Herzberg’s term ends this year. He did not run for re-election and will be replaced by Jacob Holmes who was in attendance. Holmes begins work in January.
Herzberg told Holmes he made find out that a majority of people are in favor of them.
Stimson called the board of supervisors “contradictive.”
Morris asked Stimson what the “ultimate goal” was.
Urkoski said it’s about non-participating property rights. Morris asked if they knew of any other Iowa county with wind turbines that has legal decisions about property rights.
Stimson said the other counties “ran over their citizens.”
Morris said he knows of no legalities with trespassing because of wind turbines.
“You continuing to push back on this tell us a lot,” Stimson said.
“Do you want zero turbines,” Morris asked.
“I want zero turbines,” Urkoski answered.
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