New wind energy projects in county suspended, for now

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors has agreed to temporarily suspend new wind energy projects in the county.
At the regular supervisors meeting July 5, zoning administrator Barry Byers advised the supervisors the current ordinance pertaining to wind turbines was in need of review.
“The current ordinance was passed in 2007. The setbacks for a large utility-scale windmill is essentially the tower height right now, which is well below state average. Tower height is around 300 to 400 feet, and most counties are 1,000 feet, or at least one and a half times the tower height,” Byers explained.
Also, Byers stated the ordinance was currently a two-page document, and thus did not have much other information in it.
Supervisors Chair Mark Peterson said he had discussed the ordinance with Byers, and that the feeling was that Byers wanted the Montgomery County Planning and Zoning Commission to have time to review the ordinance and see where the county was at and potentially get the ordinance updated.
“With that in mind, we need to tap the brakes in the meantime, and possibly say we’re not going to take any new wind turbine applications until we put something new in place,” Peterson commented.
Byers agreed, and stated he had talked with the planning and zoning commission and given them necessary information to research and come up with potential revisions.
“We’re probably going to meet towards the end of July. That will give the commission members time to review the information and decide on necessary changes,” Byers said.
Peterson also brought the matter to the attention of Montgomery County Attorney Drew Swanson, who gave further guidance.
“The feeling is that since the ordinance would be considered weak at this time, that could be worse than having no ordinance at all, because someone could come to the county pretty easily and say that this is what the county has in place, and this is what we’re working with,” Peterson stated. “As I said, we need to slow down. We’re not going to necessarily disallow wind turbines forever, but we need to give the zoning commission time to get an up-to-date regulation put together instead of having a large-scale company rush to the county for a project because the current regulations look so favorable right now.”
Supervisor Donna Robinson suggested Byers seek input from other counties that had wind turbine regulations in place.
“There are a number of wind turbines that are in Cass County already and have been for years, along with Adams County. Obviously Page County is in a situation where it’s very controversial, and I would like us to look at ordinances that are obviously successful,” said Robinson.
Byers confirmed he had reached out to the suggested counties, and said the overall goal was to create an ordinance that offered a middle of the road solution that was fair to both parties.
Supervisor Mike Olson motioned to implement a moratorium on new wind energy projects for one year, with the caveat that they could extend or suspend the moratorium at any time upon board approval.
The supervisors unanimously approved the moratorium.


The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

Comment Here