While admitting that any gesture they made would have little effect, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors rescinded a resolution of support during action Tuesday, Aug. 27. The resolution of support for the Rock Island Clean Line Transmission project was originally adopted in January of this year by the board.
An attempt to rescind the resolution was made earlier this Summer, but at that time, a motion to do so died for lack of a second. But following last week's Public Hearing on the proposed transmission line, the issue again came before the Supervisors.
Steve Licht and Kathy Merrill, landowners in the area of the proposed transmission line, addressed the board members during Tuesday's meeting.
Licht opened the discussion by acknowledging that several of the board members had attended the public meeting on the project last week. "I feel the overall tone of the meeting was fairly negative, that should have given a consensus of how other people felt in the room, and the room was fairly full."
Licht continued, "with that being said, I?wold hope that you would rescind this today. The $7,000 per mile, that happens whether you support it or not, so that's not the issue."
"I don't think anything we do will make any difference, anyway," commented Supervisor Jerry Hofstad.
"It might not,"?agreed Licht, "but the Iowa Utilities Board will see that 16 counties supported it, and I would hope that we could at least be neutral on it. I'm not asking you to condemn it, just show no support whatsoever, neutral."
Hofstad noted that after the line were built, landowners would be able to farm the easements, and would receive $500 a year for their inconvenience.
"You're also getting 90 percent of the land value, too," observed Board Chair Ron Graettinger.
"The costs associated with this, we may have to pay a more for spraying, lose a little bit for compaction, in 40-50 years, that little amount of money just isn't worth it,"?Licht replied. "We're going to lose some property value that may never come back for acreages, nobody's going to raise their hand to live by these things. It's going to be 500 feet from my bedroom and I'm not all enthused about that. There is health effects and Clean Line won't tell you that."
Licht told the board that there are high frequencies transmitted through electricity and they are the things that cause health effects, although unproven, but evidence was leaning towards that fact.
Supervisor Linus Solberg asked if any other county along the proposed route of the Rock Island Clean Line had not supported the project.
"Cedar County did not support it,"?Licht replied.
"Is Clay County neutral?" Solberg asked.
"They have supported it in the past, but they are having a meeting to reconsider it on Sept. 3,"?Licht answered.
"To say that we just have to farm around the poles, that's not totally true," said Kathy Merrill. "When the corn is high enough and you get bugs in it and can't get machinery over it to spray, the last couple of years we've used airplanes to spray and you can't do that with a power line."
Merrill continued, "I have a problem with eminent domain. I know they want to build a power line across Iowa. But if you were building a wind turbine on your property, you'd have a say if you want it or not and you also get paid for that. And, it's your decision."
"We've been farming for generations and I?think there are health issues, and its very close to our main farm where everything is," Merrill said. "We are small businesses in Iowa that will have to change our practices and have land basically taken that's not for sale. I don't care how much they pay - I don't want a power line."
Merrill suggested if other landowners wanted the line, that the company should negotiate with them instead.
"Eminent domain gives you no choice,"?Merrill said.
Supervisor Ed Noonan moved to rescind the resolution of support, and after receiving a second from Supervisor Keith Wirtz, a roll call vote saw supervisors Hofstad and Graettinger vote nay, while Wirtz, Solberg and Noonan voted aye for a 3-2 passage of the motion.
"I don't think anything we we do here is going to stop this," Solberg said.
"I agree," Hofstad added.
"I think we're supposed to represent the people out there that we're elected to represent,"?Noonan said.
"I had questions if the taxes paid to the county could go to people who had land taken by this project,"?Wirtz said.
"I talked with Lois Naig?(County Assessor) and she said there will be no effect on property values from this," Noonan added.