Supervisors make final decision on turbines

Wind turbines in Poweshiek County, Iowa. -Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Wind turbines once again dominated the discussion during the May 23 Tama County Board of Supervisors meeting, but seemingly for the final time, at least when it comes to official agenda items.

After reaffirming their industrial wind energy ordinances the week before, supervisor Dan Anderson let members of the Tama County Against Turbines coalition know that they would no longer be put on future agendas.

“Last week the board of supervisors took action to reaffirm our wind ordinance, so we have nothing more to discuss. From now on, we will not put Tama County Against Turbines on the agenda. Items can be put on the public comment section from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. All these comments were advised by our attorney,” Anderson said.

Many questions were posed by the coalition, nearly all of which were answered the same — no comment.

Richard Arp, Janet Wilson, and Kathy Harkema asked questions including whether the board had read other county’s wind ordinances; if the board was willing to learn from said ordinances; why the ordinances were reaffirmed with no change; how the board is going to ensure public safety of the Salt Creek project; and how they can ensure that turbines won’t create issues for the recently-built emergency telecommunications system.

Supervisor Larry Vest did acknowledge that the questions were tough.

“You are good, but no comment,” he said when asked about the potential interference with the telecommunications system.

Supervisor Bill Faircloth was once again asked about the easement he signed with Salt Creek.

You failed to say that public records show that your easement with Salt Creek’s project was terminated May 12. That was four days before you reaffirmed the wind ordinances. Would you explain that timing to us Bill?” Wilson asked him.

“I did not say anything last Monday because I was waiting for it to get recorded. I had no idea what time it was going to be recorded. I was told it would probably be later in the week,” Faircloth responded.

Arp asked Faircloth if he received any money from signing the easement, and Faircloth replied that he gave it back.

“Can you help us understand who initiated the termination of your easement with Salt Creek?” asked Arp.

“I did,” said Faircloth.

Faircloth had no comment as to why he terminated his easement when asked.

Arp continued to question Faircloth, asking what steps he took and to explain the process, both of which Faircloth answered with “no comment.”

“You three are more interested in your own back pockets than the people who elected you,” a member of the Zoning Commission said to the supervisors.

“I’m disappointed you think I would be in anyone’s back pocket,” Vest responded.

DeAnn Weber, a Clutier city councilwoman who was in the audience, said she was not present representing her city but wished to speak.

“I find it disgusting and terrible that you guys don’t even read anything, don’t take any safety into consideration, don’t listen to your constituents from Tama County. I’m just very upset. I wish we had this many people show up to our meetings. You should consider this a blessing that this many people care,” she said.

Members of Tama County Against Turbines can continue to show up at these meetings during the public work session in the future if they so choose, but they will no longer be the staple on the agenda that they have been for the past month.