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First of three wind turbine forums
editor's pick special report

Tilting at wind turbines

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The four-year-old granddaughter of Sara Tessmer recently remarked as she was riding in the car at night with her grandmother up in northwest Madison County.

“Look at all the angels.”

“It just about broke my heart,” Tessmer, a self-described “mom, grandmother and Minnesota transplant” told a crowded Earlham community center audience Monday.

The little one was reflecting on what she was seeing through her young eyes.

The remarks came as more than 70 people gathered at the first of three public forums to comment on the county’s effort to craft a usable wind turbine ordinance for the county to use going forward

At present, there are three versions of a proposed wind turbine ordinance. An ordinance that is evolving as you read this. Each of the three sample ordinances were compiled by a county supervisor.

The meeting started promptly at 6 p.m. Supervisors spent about 10 minutes discussing the rules for the meeting. No yelling, no screaming, no name calling.

Everyone who wanted to speak was invited to do so. They would get three minutes, no more. There would be a timer.

As it was, there were 22 people who ended up speaking their piece.

Although the event was orchestrated to go about two hours – everyone who wanted to speak had spoken by about 7:15 p.m.

Some spelled out what they would like to see in the final product.

The final wind turbine ordinance will have a lot of terms. Each one of the terms will be meticulously spelled out, pretty much in plain language.

One of the terms is “setback”.

How far should a wind turbine be required to be from a property line, or a residence? Most said they would prefer that distance be measured to a property line, rather than a physical dwelling.

“The constant ‘whoosh’ has ruined our outdoor experience,” said Jeff Kohler of rural Dexter. “The view and noise is just ridiculous from our place.”

He urged a 1.5 mile setback from homes.

“Have these setbacks in place to save our community,” Kohler said.

Some of the comments came as a nearly tearful request from Madison County residents. Protect us, they pleaded.

“You’re here to protect my rights as a citizen of Madison County,” one Earlham woman said.

“Protect our rights,” added Amanda Beeler.

“I can hear a non-stop ‘whoosh’,” she said, which permeates her bedroom windows. She added that “great country living” is being threatened.

“Look to the future,” urged  another. “You’re looking at a decision that is going to affect the future, and well beyond the future.”

Mary Jobst, who is a county line resident, has addressed supervisors numerous times in recent months.

“Do your jobs. Defend our rights,” Jobst said.

“We all want to live in a home that meets our standard of living.”

“Precaution should rule.”

“Protect the public.”

Others, like former Adair County supervisor Dick Hoadley, who is now living in Winterset, embrace the turbines.

Follow the money, he urged.

“The benefits for Madison County from wind turbines is a ‘win-win’,” Hoadley said. “Let’s make sure the ordinance works for all the citizens.”

Hoadley was referring to the millions of dollars of projected tax revenues from the turbines. That money can be used to do some serious stuff.

Follow the money is just what some people don’t like.

“What is money gonna do ... when you don’t have anyone left in the community?” Some residents are saying they’ll leave if turbines threaten their personal space.

“I do not support wind turbines,” one man said.

It will hurt property values, he added.

“If wind turbines go up, we will leave this county,” he said.

“Think about the current and future welfare of the community,” said Amanda Stuart.

More public comment

Two more listening post forums are scheduled.

One will be held in Winterset from 6-8 p.m. in the courtroom of the county courthouse in Winterset on Jan. 7.

The third and final public forum will be held from 6-8 p.m. Jan. 13 in Truro at the Interstate 35 High School auditorium.

County supervisors also are encouraging folks to submit written comments on the draft ordinance through Jan. 31, 2020.

The county has imposed a moratorium on new wind turbine projects until and ordinance is crafted.

One in a series of stories about Madison County’s effort to develop a wind turbine ordinance.


Reporter at the Winterset Madisonian. He has also been the managing editor at the Madisonian.