Wind farm developer says proposed setbacks are 'suffocating' – Fort Dodge Messenger

May 24, 2023
Last month, the Webster County Planning and Zoning Commission approved recommendations for the Board of Supervisors to amend the county’s existing ordinance regarding setback requirements for wind turbines.
Under the current ordinance — enacted about a decade ago for the Lundgren Wind Farm project — commercial wind turbines cannot be constructed within 150 feet of property lines; 600 feet of wildlife management areas and state recreational areas; 600 feet of wetlands; or 1,000 feet of neighboring dwelling units.
After several public meetings with input from residents, land owners and project developers, the commission settled on stricter setback requirements that land in a compromise between what landowners who are opposing a new project and the project developers proposed. That compromise included a revised setback requirement from lot acreage lines of 2,500 feet for property owners not participating in a wind farm project.
On Tuesday, a representative of Invenergy, a Chicago-based wind energy firm and the developer of one of the two proposed wind turbine projects in the eastern part of the county, told the Webster County Board of Supervisors that the proposed 2,500-foot setback from properties not participating in the project is “suffocating” and could be a “deal killer.”
Joe Crowley, the representative from Invenergy, showed the board maps of some of the properties whose owners have already signed up to participate in Envenergy’s project in Webster County. He showed different overlays illustrating the differences between the varying levels of setbacks. He said that a previous suggestion of 1,800 feet from non-participating properties could work, but that the current recommendation of 2,500 feet restricts their options to the point where it could make the project not viable.
Merlin Batz, another representative of Invenergy, said the 2,500 feet would create an “effective moratorium” on wind turbine projects in Webster County.
According to Crowley, landowners of 27,000 acres in Webster County have already signed up to participate in the Invenergy development. Several property owners in opposition to wind turbine development have argued that many of those landowners don’t live on the property they’re offering for the project and won’t experience any potential nuisances from the development.
The other potential wind farm project is being scouted by MidAmerican Energy Co. in the northeastern part of the county.
A series of public hearings will be held on the zoning ordinance recommendation sitting in front of the Board of Supervisors prior to any official action. The first hearing is set for the board’s 10 a.m. meeting on June 6. Ultimately, the board can choose to approve the commission’s recommendation as is, or make changes before approval, or the board can choose to not change the existing ordinance at all.
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