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Residents challenge turbine ordinance
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Residents challenge turbine ordinance

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Residents challenge turbine ordinance

Page County residents gathered at the courthouse in Clarinda Sept. 1 during the Page County Board of Supervisors meeting to voice their concerns on the county’s wind turbine ordinance.

Because of social distancing measures, everyone was not allowed into the meeting room at one time.

A primary area of concern among the speakers was the setback regulations in the county’s ordinance of 1,500 feet from a landowner’s house not participating. Jesse Stimson was on the agenda to discuss the rights of property owners, and additional speakers were allowed to voice their concerns during public comments. Those speaking said they would like to see the setback regulation increased to allow a larger cushion.

“Our main goal is to really communicate the desire to have equal rights for the landowners that do not want to participate in the wind turbines,” said Stimson.

Robin Sunderman from Douglas Township was one of many people that expressed concern about the current wind ordinance and having wind generators in the county.

“We have property rights, but we also have taxpayer rights,” said Sunderman, “and the property rights do infringe on safety and health for the people that live here. But they also infringe on the value of property for the entire county.”

Sunderman said, looking at other ordinances, she found some to say there are safety risks with wind generators. She feels the safety risk for people in Page County is not being considered.

Sunderman also expressed concern over the potential cost to the county to decommission the wind turbines and the devaluing of property in Page County. She felt it would be a short-term profit for the county and property owners, and the big picture is not being considered.

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“So we are looking at a loss of revenue for our county,” said Sunderman. “We’re not looking at the health and safety of the people that have to live near them and the overall environmental impact with them too.”

Page County Supervisor Chair Chuck Morris clarified the counties position on decommissioning of the wind turbines.

“We do have a decommissioning clause,” said Morris. “It is very definitive, and it will be enacted once there’s a project. We don’t have a project in front of us to tell you what that number is going to be, but the decommissioning clause is very clear and part of the process when a project comes forward.”

Another concerned resident, Rod Behrhorst, said he had lived in Page County for 65 years and he felt the supervisors made a mistake by changing the wind turbine ordinance.

In October 2019, the Page County Board of Supervisors approved a related ordinance should wind turbines come to Page County. In December, a public meeting was held in both Shenandoah and Clarinda concerning the ordinance. Then in January, the supervisors decided not to make any changes to the ordinance.

During discussions Tuesday at the board meeting, the supervisors were asked if they would now consider changing the current ordinance for the county.

Morris replied that there might be room to change the ordinance as long as it did not shut down wind turbines in the county. By shutting down the wind turbines, the county would run the risk of being sued.

“There’s room maybe to move setbacks by 100 to 200 feet,” said Morris. “There may be room to do that. There may be room to put a maximum number in our ordinance. Those would not potentially shut down wind. We can change the ordinance at any time.”

The supervisors took no action on the matter of the wind turbine ordinance at this time.

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