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Adair County Supervisors propose a ‘starting point’ in wind farm talks

Adair County Supervisor Matt Wedemeyer, left, addresses those in attendance at last Wednesday’s meeting. He is pictured with Supervisor John Twombly.
Adair County Supervisor Matt Wedemeyer, left, addresses those in attendance at last Wednesday’s meeting. He is pictured with Supervisor John Twombly.

GREENFIELD – The Adair County Board of Supervisors will be bringing in an attorney this week to hold discussions on how to potentially better regulate the future development of wind farms, they reported at a meeting Wednesday.

The meeting brought more than 50 people to the courtroom at the Adair County Courthouse. Residents were able to share their concerns with the Supervisors on the two wind farms that will soon be filling the horizon of the county.

A group of residents who are concerned with the alleged health and safety side effects of living near wind turbines have been in talks with county officials for the last six weeks talking about how they can stop or slow down wind farm development. They’re also asking for more information so that residents can make a better-informed decision as to whether or not they should allow developers the use of their land in the future, if they haven’t done so already.

MidAmerican Energy announced in late April that an area of land south of Stuart, which is mainly north and east of the Middle River, will be home to 125 wind turbines as part of a wind farm known as Arbor Hill. The other wind farm, in areas generally south of Highway 92, will include 150 wind turbines with the possibility of up to 100 more.

At the Board of Supervisors’ most recent meeting, July 18, a motion was made to keep Section 8, Ordinance 31 in place, which deals with the assessment and valuation of wind turbine properties. That measure passed.

Most of the concern residents have revolves around the distance that wind turbines are being placed from homes. This is called setbacks.

“We went to our county attorney and they told us we can’t do anything with setbacks because we don’t have zoning,” Supervisor Matt Wedemeyer said. “I feel like if we can have an ordinance that says how close you can put your hay bales to the road, why can’t we have an ordinance to deal with these setbacks?”

To answer that question, the Supervisors have reached out to an attorney they will be meeting with Friday.

“He’s going to come out here and we’re going to talk together,” Wedemeyer said. “That’s another thing — that we’ve been talking with you guys but haven’t talked with each other. It’ll be a public meeting [Friday] but we want to turn our tables around, talk together and see what we’re actually going to do.

“The first time you guys came in here, I told you I don’t want 500 new windmills in Adair County, so we have to do something to regulate it. The biggest thing I agree with you guys on are the setbacks,” he added. “Fifteen hundred feet from the foundation of your house or your fence line, I don’t like that. To me it should be 1,500 feet, if you’re a non-participant, from your property line. That’s going to be a starting point, if we can do it.”

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