Commissioners OK permit for wind farm in Florence area

Marion County has probably moved closer to a major economic development with the unanimous approval by county commissioners Monday to issue a conditional use permit for a wind turbines electrical generation farm.

The farm would be located on multiple ownership adjoining acreages in southern Marion County. The conditional use permit would be issued through the county planning and zoning committee.

Rex, Carolyn and Randy Savage were on hand for the landowners? Windborn Energy company with research if needed, and to hear Tonya Richards, director of Planning and Zoning, present the measure to the commissioners.

Commissioner Dan Holub said there seemed to be no opposition that would slow commission approval, and Richards agreed there had been none in recent zoning meetings.

But Robert Gayle, a resident of the area, appeared before the commission to protest Windborn?s contractual agreement to sell generation with a company he characterized as too new at the business.

He said an agreement by the company to pay the city of Florence $50,000 for facilities at a ballfield was not within the realm of correct property taxation.

Rex Savage said the proposed $50,000 payment to Florence isn?t a property tax, but apparently a goodwill pilot payment for use of the facility.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said the Florence community appears to be ?pretty happy? to have a piece of ground from which it will receive money.

Dallke and Commission Chairman Roger Fleming agreed with Holub, who said the commission?s authority only extends to the zoning use of the land, and has nothing to do with whatever companies and funds the parties agree to.

The three commissioners said they wish the community well in having the opportunity to bring in a major new income-generating business that may benefit everyone.

?From what I hear,? Dallke said, ?the yeas (on the wind project) are pretty happy to have a piece of ground they will get more money from.?

Residential zoning

The commissioners also approved rural residential zoning on two tracts of 15 and 10 acres at 994 Chisholm Trail Road.

Fleming said the problem with it is that county zoning rules that allow only two new homes on 40 acres a section also leave small plots like this that aren?t worth the machinery inputs and time of farmers to cultivate.

Bruce Boettcher of BG Consultants, working with county road and bridge, told the commissioners the county may receive $55,000 for $30,000 worth of engineering, $10,000 worth of right of way, and $15,000 worth of utility adjustments on a project to straighten the curve on Nighthawk at 130th.

Boettcher confirmed there have been many accidents on the curved road including one fatality in 2011.

Other matters

Commissioners approved a $37,052.70 purchase from Rod?s Tires & Service of Hillsboro for 67 tires of various sizes for road and bridge equipment over a competitive bid of $37,939 from Cardie Oil Inc.

They approved a road and bridge transport fuel bid of $25,161 from Cooper?ative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro for 5,000 gallons of diesel and 3,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline over a competitive bid of $25,322 from Cardie Oil of Tampa.

Marion County Park and Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson said the state has stocked slightly undersized channel catfish at the lake to help encourage youth fishing. The lake has large populations in very good condition of bass, crappie and blue gill, he said.

While discussing recyclable wastes collections, Fleming said it may be anywhere from three to five years before the county begins to have a ?real idea? on how well recyclable collection has done.

The one thing he sees that could hurt the program is if any entity now taking one stream of recyclables no longer wants to take it.

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