Page County resident Ryan Urkoski says the Board of Supervisors is contradicting themselves.
During the Oct. 6 Page County Board of Supervisors meeting, Urkoski voiced concern over an article that ran in the Clarinda-Herald Journal on Sept. 22, where the supervisors talked about the county’s wind turbine ordinance. He also discussed a public forum organized by Power Up Iowa at 2 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 13.
“The three of you have shut several citizens down standing at this podium at these public meetings because their statements you said were based on emotion,” said Urkoski. “But is this not your emotions quoted in this newspaper article?”
Urkoski asked the supervisors for clarification on several points throughout the article. He said the supervisors should be unbiased and neutral regarding the wind turbine issue to lead and protect the county’s citizens.
Again referring to the newspaper article, Urkoski said the supervisors state that residents need to weigh both the positive and the negative sides of wind energy to make an informed decision. He said the Power Up Iowa virtual event will be one-sided in favor of wind energy.
“As leaders of the county, you say you’re taking a neutral side,” said Urkoski. “My question is, why are you bringing in only the pro-wind side and citizens that are handpicked that live in the wind producing county to speak?”
Urkoski said to be genuinely impartial; the supervisors need to have speakers from both sides present their information at the meeting.
Board Chair Chuck Morris said the supervisors have heard from the anti-wind side on several occasions. He said this meeting would allow the board to listen to the economic development side and from counties that are successfully producing wind.
Morris said that 61 counties in Iowa are successfully producing wind, and it is a $90 billion a year business.
“Our group and the group that was here was a publicly-organized group, not organized by you,” said Urkoski. “Again, you guys say you’re not being biased and picking a side, but yet you’re not willing to bring in the opposing side to the pro-wind and listen to both sides.”
Morris said citizens in the county that are opposed to wind energy have had the opportunity to share their opinions and information.
“We’ve had two meetings in the courtroom downstairs when the ordinance was read where a lot of the oppositional points were pointed out in two different meetings,” said Morris. “You requested the meeting in March; it didn’t happen because of COVID. Then, the public meeting out at Wibholm Hall, followed by two hours here. Your voice is being heard.”
Urkoski also discussed the county’s current wind production ordinance. The ordinance requires a setback of 1,500 feet from a non-participating landowner’s residence. He said the county’s previous zoning ordinance adopted in 1997 would have offered more protection for the county’s citizens.
“The one that you guys signed in October of 2019 has opened the door to wind,” said Urkoski. “You have given us less protection, and you guys sit here and glorify yourself and lie to the public how well they’re protected with this ordinance when the ‘97 zoning ordinance had all kinds of protection.”
Panelists scheduled to speak during the forum on Oct. 13 are Bill Menner, executive director of the Iowa Rural Development Council; Brian Selinger, director of the Iowa Energy Office, a department of the Iowa Economic Development Authority; Bob Ramaekers, vice president of development, Tenaska; Gabe Klooster, manager of Renewable Development-Invenergy, LLC and Matthew Mancuso, academic dean of industrial tech programs, Iowa Western Community College, and Randy Caviness, an Adair County farmer.
The speakers presented their information over Zoom, and the public was invited to attend.
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