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Wind and solar energy language for the county zoning ordinance gets its first approval

Posted: Wed, Sep 9, 2020 9:26 AM

The Winneshiek County Planning & Zoning Commission has unanimously approved adding language concerning wind and solar power projects to the county's zoning ordinances.  The 6-0 vote Tuesday night now sends the updated language to the Board of Supervisors, which will hold a public hearing on the changes.

Just one person spoke at Tuesday night's public hearing into the new language.  Decorah native Jacob Bolson now lives in Hardin County, where a moratorium on commercial solar farms has been passed.  He told Winneshiek County Planning & Zoning Commission members that "a lot of lessons have been learned" in Hardin County in regards to wind energy farms.  Bolson said wind energy has been proven not to be cost effective, requiring large government subsidies.  He also urged Winneshiek County officials to include rules on the decommissioning of wind energy farms, urging them, "don't underestimate the language that needs to be put into place."

Commission members said there is language about decommissioning in the new ordinance, as well as a requirement for a review every five years.  Winneshiek County's zoning ordinance currently does not mention wind or solar projects, so Planning & Zoning Commission members say the new language is an important step in beginning to regulate such projects.