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Boone County P&Z Commission hosts final public hearing on wind farms

The third Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing for the proposed wind farm regulations took place Thursday night in Ashland.

There were 20 people in attendance, and the audience heard from six speakers at the Central Office Board Room of Southern Boone County Schools.

Four of the speakers, Susan Goodman, Terrie Nagel, Greg Toul and Tom Weislocher, had spoke at both of the previous hearings.

The conversation centered around the turbine height restrictions – proposed to be 355 feet – the noise concerns and who would be in charge of holding turbine operators accountable.

Nagel asked for clarification on the definition of cluster, suggesting there was a typo, and inquired into the research done on the migration of birds in the area.

Toul asked for clarification on what classified as a scenic area, which the regulations would protect from turbines.

“Ask anyone who lives out there,” Toul said, “the whole area is scenic.”

Hilary Clark, social license director at American Clean Power Association, and Carolyn Amparan, of Osage group and Sierra Club, spoke in favor of wind farms.

Clark felt the regulations were too strict and would impede Boone County’s ability to host wind turbines. Specifically, she mentioned that the height restriction was too low, considering it was nearly half of the height of today’s median turbine height and that the buffer zone put in place to manage the risk of machine failure was unnecessarily restrictive because the energy company manages risk themselves and there hasn’t been a reported injury from wind turbine failure.

“I urge you to work with the wind company,” Clark said.

Amparan felt that the responsibility shouldn’t be solely on the property owners. She felt that the energy company should have the option to request the WECOD on behalf of the property owners and that the height restriction was too low, as well.

Similar comments were made in greater detail in a letter published Wednesday from the Columbia Climate and Environment Commission to Columbia City Council, Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission and Boone County Commission.

The proposed regulations, minutes from previous hearings, the presentation from the hearings and an FAQ, can be found on the Boone County Government’s Resource Management website.

Additional public comments, questions, and concerns can be submitted online through Friday.

To end the hearing, Rhonda Proctor of the Boone County Resource Management thanked the citizens for participating in the process. She said that everything from the previous hearings and digitally submitted comments would be complied and examined. An edited draft of the regulations will then be resubmitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission and another round of public hearings will be held to discuss the revisions.