(Clarinda) -- After months of discussion and two public meetings, Page County's Board of Supervisors has decided to leave the county wind turbine ordinance as is.
Meeting at the county courthouse Tuesday morning, the supervisors took no action on the wind energy conversion system ordinance, opting instead to leave the current language intact. The decision comes after the supervisors held public meetings in both Clarinda and Shenandoah last month to gather feedback on wind turbines in the county. Much of the public feedback from those opposed to wind turbines in the county dealt with setback regulations, which currently require 1,500 feet between a wind turbine and a non-participating landowner's house. Supervisor Jon Herzberg says increasing the setback much more would effectively end wind energy possibilities in the county.
"A 1,600 feet setback is about the most you can go, otherwise the wind energy companies won't come in," said Herzberg.
At one of the public meetings, a citizen suggested changing the setback to 1,500 from a property line, rather than from the non-participating house. Supervisors Chair Chuck Morris says the property line setback rule would also have a negative impact on potential wind energy.
"The way the plats work out in our county, much like across Iowa, that property line restriction doesn't make it efficient for them to build their grid," said Morris. "If we change that to a property line, it would have the same impact as putting a two-mile setback."
Morris says the supervisors are trying to balance economic opportunities for the county with the rights of those opposed to wind turbines.
"I firmly believe that it's not government's role to impinge on property rights," said Morris. "You have property rights and they have property rights if they want a wind turbine."
Page County resident Jane Stimson voiced her displeasure with the supervisors' decision.
"I think the supervisors are looking out for big corporations, whose money is going somewhere," said Stimson. "They are looking out for landowners that don't live here, that make their money other ways. They don't give a rip about what's going on here. I think you are looking out for them more than you are looking for those of us who have been in families for generations in this county and we've socially helped the county and we've financially helped the county. And you are selling us out."
Morris says regardless of what the supervisors do, they would be upsetting a portion of the population.
"Whichever we land, we've got people pretty upset and we understand that," said Morris. "The people that are counting on that income for their farm operations, if we tell them that we are going to do something and you aren't going to have that opportunity, they are going to be as mad or as upset at us as you are going to be if we allow it."
The county ordinance does require a setback from non-participating property lines equal to 1.1 times the height of the turbine.