TOLEDO – After members of the Tama County Board of Supervisors recently said the Tama County Against Turbines Coalition would no longer be put on the agenda at future meetings, the group showed up on May 31 in full force.
The meeting started off with resident Rita Dostal telling the board about Salt Creek and their requests to put wind turbines on her land.
“Salt Creek has asked me twice. I’ve turned them down twice. If they contact me again, I’m going to my lawyer for harassment,” said Dostal.
Dostal asked Salt Creek if they could tell her where the wind turbines would be going, to which they responded that they could not.
“If they come on my land (Salt Creek) or come near me again, I’m going to call the police for trespassing on my land,” said Dostal.
After her comments, John Winkelpleck and Richard Arp, who are both fourth generation landowners, continued to question the board.
Arp began by asking if the board would revisit and adjust the wind energy ordinances the county has in place after they were reaffirmed last week.
“Same as last week, I have no comment,” Supervisor Larry Vest answered.
Winkelpleck then brought forth the next action item.
“We are formally requesting that you as supervisors take a vote to initiate a moratorium on the approval of any future industrial wind projects. The moratorium would place a pause on the approval of any future wind projects or repowering of them of anything beyond Salt Creek phase one. If not, why?”
Vest’s answer remained the same. “No comment.”
Arp took over for the third action item.
“We are requesting for the county board of adjustment to not issue any more special conditional use permits that might allow industrial wind turbines to be placed on agricultural land,” he said.
Winkelpleck continued to the fourth action item before the board answered.
“The fourth action item is for the county staff to actually monitor and enforce compliance with all areas of the county’s existing wind energy conversion system ordinance, starting today,” he said. “Despite the many gaps in the current ordinance language, we are asking the county to begin the process of monitoring and enforcing what is the current ordinance.”
Winkelpleck argued that in the future, the ordinance needs more comprehensive language in order to be better enforced.
Arp brought up one of the recurring questions the coalition has asked in the fifth action item about whether the staff responsible for enforcing these ordinances would work with the sheriff’s department to make sure the turbines do not interfere with the county’s new emergency communication system.
“To do that, the county staff responsible for accepting applications for wind projects, or phases of them, need to verify before any applications are considered or approved that the application includes the exact total turbine height with the blades fully extended for each specific proposed turbine and location,” Arp said.
Winkelpleck added that if specific information for each turbine is not included in the application, the application needs to be denied until it is supplied in full.
The sixth and final request was that the full and complete minutes of each board of supervisors work session be published to the website.
Winkelpleck repeated the six action items once again before Arp asked the board what their next steps would be.
“No comment,” Vest said.
This response drew the ire of Dostal, who asked what the reason could be for not providing any comments.
“That’s not an answer. There’s a reason why you’re saying no comment. Are you scared? Bought out? Scared to be sued? What are they?” she asked. “Hopefully you can hear us in the back because it seems like this has passed over deaf ears when we’ve talked about a lawsuit, the very strong possibility of one. Should we do the things that are being requested of this group from the beginning, which was a moratorium and the change of ordinances.”
She then said she had received information from Curt Boerhmr that Salt Creek has already invested between $12 and $15 million, and she mentioned the prospect of a lawsuit.
“Our current debt is around $15 million. Do we want to double our debt?” she asked.
Winkelpleck expressed his distaste in using Boerhmr for information on Salt Creek, then assured the supervisors they would see them on Monday for the next meeting.
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