By Sam Parsons
The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors met yesterday morning and had a discussion about wind turbines and zoning within the county. Mahaska County resident Micah Van Mersbergen spoke with the board about MidAmerican Energy’s proposed $3.9 billion wind and solar energy project called Wind PRIME.
Van Mersbergen said that while no potential locations have been made official, he guessed that MidAmerican would be looking into Mahaska County as a candidate for some wind turbines, so he gathered feedback from residents of Cedar Township and Harrison Township on that possibility. He said that he didn’t hear from anyone who would either approve of them or be neutral to them.
County attorney Andrew Ritland chimed in regarding the possibility of creating a zoning board to regulate wind turbines. He said that Mahaska County is in the minority of counties that do not have a zoning board, and that the vast majority of counties who regulate wind turbine development do so through a full zoning board. Ritland said that one idea for the county to regulate wind mill turbines would be to implement exclusion zones of either 1,500 feet or 2,500 feet, preventing wind turbines from being developed within those distances of another structure to ensure no turbines were being built too close to people’s residences. He called the regulation of wind turbines a “balancing act” between tax revenue and the amount of development they want in the county.
Ultimately, no action was taken, with board chair Mark Groenendyk saying he would like to see a more robust collection of community input before making a decision.