Humboldt supervisors OK wind turbine rules

DAKOTA CITY — Humboldt County has a new ordinance governing wind towers.

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors approved the ordinance on a series of 4-1 votes Monday. Wind towers have been the subject of several board meetings and workshops last year and this year, plus a public forum held by the board in December. County Attorney Jon Beaty has worked on the ordinance for several months.

The supervisors have reviewed wind tower ordinances from several other counties and have listened to landowners on both sides of the issue.

“Without an ordinance we are not doing anything in the best interest of the county,” Supervisor Erik Underberg said back in January.

Without an ordinance the county has nothing to protect the public or the county’s infrastructure should a wind farm company move into the county, landowners have told the board.

Under the new ordinance the building permit fee per tower is $1,000.

Noise level was limited to 60 decibels at the nearest structure or use occupied by humans.

Setback requirements include: 150 feet from property lines; 1,000 feet from neighboring dwelling units; 600 feet from wildlife management areas, state recreational areas, confinement feeding operation buildings, U.S. Fish and Wildlife properties; and one half the rotor diameter from other structures, cemeteries, and river bluffs.

Underberg said again that he felt the setback from property lines should be 600 feet and 1,600 feet from neighboring dwellings.

Board Chairman Bruce Reimers said Underberg has had many opportunities to include that change.

However, Underberg said he has brought the matter up before but there was no interest from the other supervisors.

“The distances are kind of a joke, not being far enough away,” Underberg said.

Landowner Tom Wilson told the board he was concerned about the possible health risks from the towers on his disabled wife and on the exotic animals on his farm. He had asked the board to look at the health risk studies. He is afraid his small farm will be surrounded by wind towers.

He asked the board to consider a policy whereby landowners need to ask their neighbors for the OK for easements and setbacks.

“Right now you are forcing me to put them close to my place if my absentee landowners chose to do so,” he said. “Help us to keep Humboldt County quiet for those that have the small farms that bought them so that they can live out the rest of their lives peacefully because this is literally the rest of my life.”

The board was asked who of them had actually went out and listened to the noise of the wind towers. Most of the supervisors had been within 1,000 feet of the towers and Reimers said he had been within 75 feet of one of the towers and could not hear the noise people had complained about.

“It’s about time we act on it,” Supervisor Carl Mattes said.

“It may not be perfect, but I think we need to do something with it,” Supervisor David Lee said. “Adopt this one and maybe in a year or two see what happens.”

“Tom (Wilson) I feel bad about your situation, but I think the good neighbor policy can work both ways.,” Mattes said. ”I think you can go to those people and plead your case and maybe get something accomplished in your area. There will be some people who gain and some people who lose.”

“I’ve gone to all of them that I’ve been able to contact so far,” Wilson said. ”It is the absentee owners that I am scared to death of.”

The board approved the first reading. Underberg voted no. The board then waived the second and third readings and Underberg again voted no. Finally the board adopted the ordinance with Underberg opposed.