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Supervisors approve first reading of wind energy ordinance

Board opts for all three readings

September 21, 2011
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

The Emmet County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved first reading of an ordinance regulating siting of wind turbines in the county.

Key provisions are:

n Turbines would be 250 feet maximum in height when within 1,250 feet of any residential district. No height limits would apply in other zoning districts; however, turbines would not be allowed to interfere with flight approach zones.

n Small wind devices would be exempt from zoning high limits. However, they, too, would have to be clear from approach zones.

n Commercial setbacks would be 110 percent of total height from any public right of way, overhead utility lines or adjacent property lines. There would also be a 1,250-foot setback from occupied dwellings.

n Owner/developers would be responsible for mitigating damage to drainage tiles or roads.

n Each turbine would have a decommissioning plan in place to remove structures once they are no longer in use.

Dar Lewis, Emmet County zoning administrator, presented the ordinance to the board for approval. Accompanying Lewis were Al Blum and Bob Schacherer of the NorthStar and Red Rock wind projects. Blum had considerable input into the Dickinson County wind ordinance upon which the Emmet County ordinance is based.

Blue described the Dickinson County ordinance, saying it was, "as far as I know, the most stringent in Iowa."

Supervisor Al Madden questioned having too strict of an ordinance, saying that it could "box us out from somebody that wants to put up turbines." Madden asked Blum if Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative's turbines at Superior would fit the ordinance.

Blum said the ILEC turbines would not fit GE's (a turbine manufacturer) requirements which mandate that turbines be five rotor diameters apart.

"They're willing to pay the collection for that collection system," Blum said.

"The only concern I have is the road system," said supervisor Ron Smith.

Blum said one potential contractor on the NorthStar project, Mortenson Construction, addressed damage to both roads and drainage tile in its bid. "I think that's the way to do it," Blum said.

Supervisor Alan Madden objected to waiving two other readings before ordinance approval.

"I don't want to waive it," Madden said, saying he wanted residents to have the opportunity for comment.

Second reading for the ordinance will be Sept. 27, with final approval the meeting after that.



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