DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals asked to move turbines farther away

DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals asked to change set back locations by an addition 1,000 feet could jeopardize the entire project. (Photo courtesy WJBC File)

By Blake Haas

CLINTON – Opponents in DeWitt County have asked for significant changes before a proposed wind turbine project moves forward.

Residents in DeWitt County are asking the DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals to move the possible turbines from 650 feet to 1,640 feet from the edge of the owners property line.

“The public has been having a good conversation over the last six months about appropriate regulations for these wind farms,” said Tom Swierzcewski, Tradewind Energy Development Director speaking with WJBC’s Marc Strauss. “The zoning board of appeals just got finished last week on one of them which is increasing it [turbine location] from about 600 feet to property lines to about 1,640 feet to property lines and if that regulation were to go into effect that would be very very problematic for the project.”

Wind turbines which convert kinetic energy into electrical energy, take up a large amount of space and the question surrounding wind turbines in DeWitt County is how much land is actually available to place the turbines.

“We have the first phase of our project in which we hope to be under construction in a little over a year is about 200 megawatts,” added Swierzcwski. “With the current regulations the 13,000 or so acres that we have under lease only about 20 percent of that acreage would actually be available to place turbines. If this new setback were to be imposed that number would be reduced down to less than four percent. If you were to take a quarter section of land which is a big piece of property in DeWitt County 160 acres, and you were to apply a 1,640 foot setback to all four property lines that 160 acre piece of ground would no longer be able to host one turbine.”

Swierzcwski added that the biggest support that his company Tradewind Energy of Lenexa, Ks. has been not only from small business owners but the farming community as well.

“We are seeing a lot of support in the community and in particular the farming community,” added Swierzcwski. “Farmers are you know small business owners and they [get] their income from land. They see hosting a wind turbine or other wind project elements as adding revenue and adding value to their property and their business, so they are generally very supportive. We are pretty optimistic, we talk to a lot of people in the community and there is a lot of support in DeWitt County. They see the economic benefits these projects bring and certainly they have neighboring wind farms in three directions and it is really DeWitt County’s time so we are pretty optimistic that any regulations that do get approved are not going to kill our opportunity for this project and we are hoping to be under construction in a little over a year.”

The DeWitt Zoning Board of Appeals will meet later this month to decide the matter.

Blake Haas can be reached at Blake.Haas@cumulus.com.

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