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January 23, 2019

12/24/2018 11:20:00 AM
County board approves Badger Solar Farm LOC

After an hour and a half of comments from the public at their regular meeting Tuesday the Iowa County Board of Supervisors approved an LOC with Badger Hollow Solar Farm.
The LOC (Local Operating Contract) is between the county, the affected townships and Badger Hollow Solar Farm. During discussion it was amended and finally passed by a 16-2 vote. Supervisors James Griffiths and Don Leix voted no.
Griffiths had asked Badger Solo Farm representative Dan Litchfield how many start-ups by the company are still owned by them. Litchfield said as companies they supply grow they want to obtain the provider so a sale is not uncommon. He said the company retains 40% of original start-ups at present
Leix spoke at length about the project he has actively campaigned against since the start.
Among his concerns are that no funds for decommissioning are required until year 15.
"You said sometimes hail causes damage to the solar panels. What happens if there is a tornado or an earthquake and everything is destroyed. Who pays then?" he asked.
He also asked about disaster insurance coverage and about compensation for lost property values.
He then commented on erosion control and groundcover plans.
"We don't know what we are up against," he said.
Leix also discussed the need for buffers which he feels should be on all county and state roads. He also questioned who is charge of weed control.
Litchfield said weed control will no doubt be sub-contracted and he showed diagrams on what type of grass will be planted for weed control.
Griffith also commented on hail damage with his concern that micro pellets of glass could go into the streams and groundwater during run-off.
He also discussed setbacks and feels without this taken care of the county is getting the cart before the horse.
"Let Badger Hollow get the permit and come back to us," he said. "If they want to be fair they should do this."
Supervisor Bruce Paull said he has given the project serious study as well as studying solar power.
"This project will generate big revenue for us," he said.
Supervisor Justin O'Brien said he feels the PSC should rule before the county does a LOC.
"We have not had a project like this before," he told the board. "I feel we may be missing something and we should want to be thorough."
He added he feels the LOC is a fairly good document which can be used for projects going forward.
Supervisor Bruce Haag said he wants to make sure the site is clear of weeds and unneeded trees and brush.
Litchfield said that would not be a problem as trees block the sun the solar panels are trying to attract.
During discussion board chairman John Meyers reminded everyone present it is the Public Service Commission who actually approves the project, not the county board.
Supervisor Dave Gollon addressed the board and his comments were followed with the vote.
"I am irritated by several things," he began. "I am irritated by windmills, by power poles and by people trying to tell others how to use the land they are taxed for. What we have here are 18 willing landowners who have put their sweat and hard work into their land and now want to provide for their future by letting it be used by this project. I don't feel we should tell people what to do with their own land."
Gollon offered the amendment to the agreement agreed upon by the county and BSF which was passed. Meyers called the question which approved the LOC.
Prior to discussion the board took testimony from people both for and against the project. Here are two of them.
Richard Jinkins said lawyers have been hired to stop the Badger Solar Farm project because the county has no guidelines established.
"Hopefully the next project will be done right," he said.
Bill Polkinghorn who has a farm affected by the project said he has 200 acres in the Town of Mifflin with 150 tillable. He said he rents it for $42,00 and pays $10,000 in taxes.
"That leaves $32,000 and my wife and I won't live forever. We have five children and if they keep the arrangement that is $6400 each. With what we will get from the project they will each receive $22,000 each. We are doing this for the future," he said.
Others who spoke to the board opposed the ATC transmission line project and one person asked the board to vote against the proposed land use change for adult entertainment in the Town of Mineral Point if it comes to the board.
The board moved along with the jail building project and approved a contract with Potter Lawson, Inc to provide architectural services for construction of a law enforcement center.
Initial costs will be $25,000 to verify space needs and determine what programs and services will take place in the building. To get estimates for the schematic design phase an additional cost of $85,000 will be added. The rest of the phases will be paid for under the 5.85% of guaranteed maximum price established by the construction manager.
The committee also recommends a furniture and furnishings design for an added $25.000.
The entire contract is estimated to fall between $1,300,000 and $1,600,000.
In closed session the board considered land purchase. After the session the board approved purchasing nine acres of land known as the former Kelly property northwest of the Highway Department. Cost is anticipated to be $382,500.00.
Also discussed in executive session was a potential nursing home merger. involving Upland Hills Health and Iowa County which operates Bloomfield Manor. No action was taken.
In further business the supervisors recognized Karen Oellerich and Therese Evans on their retirements. They passed a resolution honoring 2018 4-H Key Award recipients Bree Gaffney, from Mounds View 4-H Club, and Bethany Harman from 5-Point 4-H. Recognition also went to Iowa County Deputy Eric Hartwig who finished second in the ALERT Challenge by Wisconsin County Mutual Insurance Corporation.
Iowa County Administrater Larry Bierke presented citizens for appointment to boards which were approved. Kate Kranzmann will serve on the Barneveld Public Library Board and the Iowa County Library Board, both for three year terms. James Murphy will serve on the Veterans Service Commission.
The Iowa County Highway Access Control Ordinance was amended and passed unanimously.
The board was presented with a request for a pay grade reclassification fo the deputy county clerk. The reclassification was approved and will impact the current budger $21.66 and the 2019 budget $2,074.25.
The board also authorized County Clerk Greg Klusendorf to publish a class 1 notice in January and March notifying the public that dog licenses and rabies vaccinations are required by state statutes.

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