SIOUX CITY – Woodbury County is one step closer to tighter wind energy restrictions for commercial wind farms.
The board of supervisors held a second public hearing Tuesday night on a wind energy ordinance. After the hearing, the board unanimously approved the second reading of the ordinance.
Board chair Rocky De Witt said they learn more about the ordinance as the process continues.
The current zoning ordinance allows wind energy in agricultural preservation and general industrial zones, said David Gleiser, director of rural economic development.
The proposal would add regulations to commercial wind farms. But it would not impact individuals wanting to install wind turbines on their property.
The proposed setback distances are:
– 600 feet or 110 percent of total height from occupied residences, public road right-of-way and public conservation areas;
– 600 feet from cemetery or city limits;
– 110 percent of total height from adjacent property lines, unoccupied non-residential buildings and confinement feeding operations buildings;
– One mile from the Loess Hills.
Graham McGaffin, the Nature Conservancy of Iowa’s associate director of conservation and Loess Hills programs, said the Loess Hills is an internationally significant area. There is only one other place in the world like the Loess Hills, and it’s in China.
He said it is more important then ever to protect the area.
During the meeting Tuesday night, Gleiser said he worked with McGaffin to work on a definition of the Loess Hills for the ordinance. The definition and map they chose is one that is recognized by the federal government and Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Gleiser said individuals have voiced concerns about the Loess Hills restrictions due to the hills being 90 percent privately owned.
Chris Zellmer Zant, Woodbury County zoning commission chair, said the ordinance does not need to be a stand alone ordinance and said she does not want to have the Loess Hills classification in the ordinance.
“We’ve gone through this Loess Hills terminology before and we had nearly riots over the language,” she said.
At the last meeting, Randy Wagner of Wayne, Nebraska, spoke to the board about his experiences with wind turbines near his home.
He recommended having a minimum of a mile setback distance from a home.
Gleiser presented maps showing where wind farms could be developed from setback distances of 600 feet, 1,250 feet and one mile. With a one mile setback from occupied homes, there were very few places wind farms could be established.
The last public hearing is set for 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday in the board’s meeting room in the basement of the courthouse.
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