June 16, 2024

Supervisors approve wind ordinance changes

Union County Board of Supervisors approved the second reading Monday to revisions to the county’s wind turbine ordinance. With no comments made during the public hearing, Supervisor Rick Friday made the motion to waive the third reading and adopt the ordinance. All passed unanimously.

The additions were the first changes to the ordinance since the county’s initial 34 turbines were installed in 2020.

Additions to the ordinance include aircraft lighting detections systems. New turbines must have a sensor-based system that detect aircraft as it approaches a turbine. The lights on the turbine are activated until the aircraft has safely passed.

The lighting system must also have means of tailoring the intensity level of lights according to surrounding visibility.

Another revision is for an archaeological survey to be done in a 1 mile radius of the new tower’s proposed site and be recorded with the state’s archaeologist. The survey will be funded by the turbine permit applicant.

The ordinance includes adding certain public areas related to setback distances. Those areas include the Paul and Becky Kelly Family Natural Wilderness Area, Thayer Lake and the Groesebeck Wildlife Area.

The turbine must have a setback distance no less than .62 miles or seven times of the total height of the tower, whichever is greater from the adjoining property owner’s property line. An affected property owner may waive the setback distance with an agreement .

If the owner of the turbine is no longer operating it and not paying property taxes, the landowner shall be responsible for payment of property taxes on the turbine in question.

Supervisors approved a suspension of all new wind turbine projects in March 2023. The suspension was influenced by reports of wind turbine companies soliciting landowners in late 2022 in southern portions of the county to expand. The suspension was continued late last year to July.

Supervisors also approved a budget amendment that has $384,240 in expenses. Of that amount, $288,000 is paying off the remaining amount of the landfill bond. Other expenses include recycling, buildings and ground fees and district court fees.

Because of the Memorial Day holiday Monday, supervisors will meet 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 29.

In other county news...

Dale Cline who lives on the county’s west side told the supervisors his concerns for what is nicknamed “mud running” or “mudding.” That is when people drive vehicles at a high rate of speed to through dirt roads that have turned to mud, purely for entertainment. With the recent rains, Cline said he is aware of people “mud running.”

“It’s hard on property owners and farmers,” he said. As the mud dries, he said it leaves behind extensive ruts in portions of roads making it more difficult to drive. That also requires secondary roads to reshape the road to allow for appropriate drainage rather than the ruts filling with water after ensuing rains.

“I know the temptation is there,” Cline said.

He said he knows of other Iowa counties that have ordinances banning the practice. With evidence, some counties have a ciminal mischief charge against the suspect.

Supervisors did not take any action on Cline’s comments.

Secondary Roads Superintendent Al Hysell said there was some tree damage during Sunday night’s storm. He also said tree damage on 200th Street south of Cromwell showed evidence that it was a tornado.

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.