Clay County officials approved a re-zoning measure to help make way for a state of the art wind farm in the area, but not everyone is happy about it. Several landowners in the area don't like the idea because they say a wind farm would be unsightly, among other reasons. But county officials say it will be a great source of revenue.
Horn Wind LLP is a Windthorst company looking to build its wind turbines in the southwest corner of Clay County. That's why county officials are looking into potential incentives to get the company to bring it's wares to an 1,100-acre section of land.
The county wants to offer Horn Wind tax abatements for ten years, but state law says abatements can only be given in reinvestment zones. That's what county commissioners turned the area into with a unanimous vote this week.
At recent public hearings, two groups have presented their opinions. A petition presented by Horn showed 16 people support the plan. An opposing petition had 17 names against, many of them arguing the wind turbines are unsightly, could lower their property value, or mess up the rural countryside.
Clay County Judge Kenneth Liggett declined to speak on camera, but he says private landowners in the reinvestment area should have the right to lease their land to Horn Wind if they choose. If they don't want to, the county can't and won't make them.
Although county officials voted to make the section of the county a reinvestment zone, it's not a done deal with the wind energy company yet. Judge Liggett says the vote was just step number one in a long series of steps.
The county estimates that having a windfarm could eventually increase the county's tax base by about $15 million. It would also bring in large numbers of temporary jobs during the construction phase of the wind turbines.