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  • Last modified 275 days ago (March 7, 2019)

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Public may speak on wind farm plans

Staff writer

Friends and foes of a wind farm proposed for the southern portion of the county, and anyone wanting to learn more about the project, can have their say Monday when the county commission meets at 9 a.m. at Marion community center.

National Renewable Solutions, based in Wayzata, Minnesota, proposes to build a wind farm originally the idea of Florence resident Rex Savage, who notched the idea forward but it never reached construction. NRS purchased the former Windborne Energy project in July 2018, renaming it Expedition Wind Farm, and has been meeting with property owners in the area they want to install turbines.

Opponents of building a second wind farm in the county packed the commission’s Feb. 19 meeting to voice concerns and complaints. A large number of speakers at that meeting were residents of the area where the Diamond Vista wind farm project is being built.

At that meeting, Jesse Hopkins-Hoel, vice president of development for NRS, reminded people that Expedition Wind Farm is a private project. Although all agreements are not yet sealed, they will be private agreements with the landowners.

At the earlier meeting, commissioner Dianne Novak said the county might want to impose a moratorium on wind farms for the time being. Hopkins-Hoel asked that commissioners hear from contract signers before making decisions.

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Hopkins-Hoel said nearly 100 contracts are already signed, and some of the people who have signed contracts will be at Monday’s meeting.

Pat Hughes, the county’s attorney for wind farm projects, held an executive session with commissioners to advise them on administration of zoning codes for the proposed Expedition Wind Farm.

NRS has not yet presented a conditional use permit application, Sharon Omstead, county planning and zoning director said.

“Our zoning board reviews the application and makes decisions whether the use of the land is consistent with the surrounding area,” Omstead said.

After a conditional use permit application is presented, the department will put a legal notice in the paper that a public meeting will be held at least 20 days later.

After the zoning board makes its recommendation whether or not to approve the permit, there’s a 14-day protest period before the recommendation is presented to the commission. The commission can approve, deny, approve with conditions, or table the recommendations, Omstead said.

Last modified March 7, 2019

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