Protect Our Land's Future! (Union County, IA)

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ADDENDUM:  In response to our initial petition, the Union County Board of Supervisors voted to enact an abeyance through January 1, 2021 that temporarily suspends all wind turbine permits from be submitted during this period. After observing the construction of the current project (36 wind turbines), they will make the decision on whether the wind ordinance should be modified, and, if so, what modifications are necessary.

Due to the widespread public opposition to future wind development in our county, a number of concerned citizens formally organized our group as “Protect Our Land’s Future – Union County, IA.” We are strongly encouraging our Board of Supervisors to increase setbacks for non-participants in an effort to improve safety and quality of life for those forced to live within the footprint of an industrial wind park. In addition, our group will be addressing the need to measure setbacks from the property line, rather than the foundation of the home, and highlighting the importance of noise and infrasound restrictions to a level recommended by reputable audiologists and sound acousticians across the globe.

In signing this petition, you are voicing your support of our efforts to better protect our residents and community through increased setbacks and noise restrictions. These signatures will be presented to the Board of Supervisors in January 2021 to demonstrate that an overwhelming majority of our residents oppose further wind development and insist on better protections for non-participants. We also encourage you to personally contact each supervisor with your comments at:

     Dennis Brown: (641) 782-6561, dbrown@unioncountyiowa.org

     Ron Riley: (641) 782-0758, rriley@unioncountyiowa.org

     Rick Friday: (641) 344-9130, rfriday@unioncountyiowa.org

ORIGINAL PETITION:     

     MidAmerican Energy Company has bulldozed their way through Adair and surrounding counties and have left their landscape and local residents destroyed. Where there once were picturesque skylines, open skies filled with various birds, and the quiet calmness all around, there’s now hundreds of 600-ft tall hunks of metal that overwhelm the countryside. The 144-ft blades traveling at speeds over 120 mph kill thousands of birds and bats who used to safely navigate the skies. Areas across the country are now finding that predator birds are being killed by the masses which has seriously changed the balance of their local ecosystem. They’re now overrun by rabbits, gophers, rodents and even coyotes. A beekeeper’s testimony told of damaging effects to his hives when bees are already in a threatened state and are so crucial to our livelihoods. Damages to drainage systems and limited quality topsoil are also a concern.

     Besides the very real threat to wildlife, wind turbines cast a long list of negative effects. When the large majority of residents who oppose wind turbines in their area are forced to see this visual pollution in their own backyards, enduring shadow flickers and annoying noise on a daily basis, their love for their home diminishes. They no longer have local pride, nor do they have ambition to invest their time and talents in building their community.

     Moreover, a detailed study conducted by McCann Appraisal, LLC in the Quad Cities area showed a significant reduction in property value up to 2 miles from the nearest turbine. In fact, numerous reputable studies across the U.S. and worldwide have repeatedly demonstrated that industrial wind turbines reduce property values. How much property tax revenue will be lost in Union County due to diminishing land values?

     Union County has worked hard to develop its tourism (lakes/parks/events) which has had a positive impact on our economy. We could easily see a decline in people who once came for shopping/recreation/hunting. Nature lovers will look elsewhere to hike and bike. People will be dissuaded from moving to this region because it has become an eyesore. And families who’ve lived here for generations may be driven out. What a terrible treasure we’d lose in these people, both those here and the lost potential of newcomers.

     Even more concerning is “a growing body of scientific and medical evidence suggesting that the health effects on those subjected to long and frequent periods of pulsating, low-frequency noise associated with wind turbines include sleep disturbances leading to depression, chronic stress, migraines, nausea and dizziness, exhaustion and anger, memory loss and cognitive difficulties, cardiac arrhythmias, increased heart rate and blood pressure.” (Science & Public Policy Institute) Dr. W. Ben Johnson, cardiologist from the Iowa Heart Center, testified pro-bono before the Madison County Board of Health urging people to recognize the mounting research that supports the claims of locals suffering from these issues. Other reports have indicated an increased incidence of seizures and migraines near turbines. So, we ask, at what cost are we willing to take in tax revenue if it means the expense of the health of our families and children?

     As cited by Janna Swanson, President of the Coalition for Rural Property Rights, “Counties often admit they are allowing wind turbines for the property tax revenue they bring. Iowa Code 427B.26 outlines the tax payment schedule. The first year a wind installation is running they pay no taxes. The second year they will pay 5%, the third 10%, increasing by increments of 5% until they are forever capped at 30% in year 8 while each and every turbine is raking in about $300,000 a year in tax credits. Communities will see about $10,000 per turbine in year 8. This is after the heavy equipment takes value out of our roads, compromises our tiling infrastructure, compacts our world class farm ground and the turbines lower home values of hundreds of residents."

     It's time we stand up and say, “Enough is enough!” Our quality of life should not be for sale! We’re asking the Union County Supervisors to not place the interest of profits over the health and welfare of our communities that are being invaded. The zoning board in Buchanan County, Iowa recommended a ban on all commercial wind turbine development after recognizing that the county residents who stood to lose the most were dominating the participation at most meetings. In fact, over 270 government entities in the U.S. alone have banned or blocked industrial wind turbines at the urging of their constituents. This is how we convey our message: attend, be involved, voice your concerns. The more they hear from us, the greater they realize that the LARGE MAJORITY of residents do NOT want commercial wind turbines in our county.

By signing this petition, you are:

1. Asking the Union County supervisors to halt the build and development of all commercial wind turbines in Union County beyond the 36 already approved in 2019.

2. Asking the Union County supervisors to revise current setbacks for wind turbines to a safe distance of 1.5 miles from inhabited dwellings. This distance is based on the resolution passed in 2019 by the Madison County, Iowa Board of Health recommending a 1.5-mile setback to protect residences from wind turbine nuisances and harms after an extensive study of health risks associated with living near turbines. Current Union County ordinances require a turbine setback of 1,250 feet from participating residences, 1,500 feet from non-participating residences/churches, and one mile from parks.

3. Asking the Union County supervisors to protect the health of ALL county residents from adverse impact of audible noise and infrasound. The World Health Organization has concluded that noise levels of 40dBA or higher will lead to diminished health. MidAmerican Energy’s audible noise limit is beyond 40dBA.

4. Asking Union County supervisors to provide evidence to the public of the need to permit placement of wind turbines on prime agricultural land.

Thank you for your support!

Concerned Citizens of Union County, IA