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Decision blows in the wind

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Outcome on wind turbines is up in the air

HARTINGTON — County commissioners took a rain check on a decision to approve zoning related to the development of wind turbines.

A crowd of 23 people gathered for the board’s regular meeting last week - including representatives from NextEra Energy and Attorney Lee Greenwald. Although there were certainly differing opinions, the vast majority who spoke to the county commissioners last week were proponents of wind turbines and sought to loosen zoning restrictions.

At a public hearing April 11 before the county zoning board, turbine opponents were in the majority. After that hearing, the county’s zoning board approved changes more restrictive to wind turbine development. The zoning changes included a one-mile setback for a non-participating dwelling and a one-half mile setback for a participating dwelling. Setbacks are waiverable by the zoning board.

The commissioners tabled a decision to adopt the changes at their meeting April 12 with the intention of making a decision at the April 26 meeting. Now, the zoning board will take more public comment at a June meeting that has yet to be announced.

At the meeting last week, Chairman Craig Bartels announced no action would be taken prior to comments from the public. A total of 12 people spoke for more than an hour on the topic

Phil Clement of NextEra Energy said the 100-year-old company has turbine development in mind for the Magnet and Sholes areas in Cedar County. The company already has a 60-turbine development at Sholes in Wayne County.

“The wind here is pretty much perfect,” he said, with sustained 60-mph winds ideal for turbines to turn at full capacity.

Many of those speaking at the meeting specifically addressed the common questions and concerns about wind turbines from decommissioning them once they’ve reached end of life to their effect on birds and bats, and everything in-between. Here’s a roundup of the topics addressed:

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