Over the past several months, Boone County has the opportunity to update their zoning regulations to help welcome a wind farm company into the community willing to pay landowners thousands of dollars a year and to pump millions of dollars of tax revenue in local schools.
Instead of seizing upon this idea, unelected officials in Boone County have shrugged their shoulders and stated publicly that the citizens here do not need the money.
On March 21st of this year, Boone County Resource Management Director Stan Shawver stated in an email that a decision on new wind farm ordinances would be recommended to the Boone County Commission within “90 days.” Which means new ordinances should have been completed six months ago. Instead, the matter of facilitating a new industry in Boone County has been left to an unelected group of citizens on the Planning and Zoning Commission who have not met on the matter since August.
The Boone County Resource Management Office is on record saying that they don’t “understand why this wind project is looking at Boone County.” That was his quote in the Columbia Missourian this year. But they have also said in meetings that this project should move to a neighboring county that “needs the money more than (Boone County) needs it.” That’s not the job of the Resource Management Office to wonder this; their job is to work to make Boone County a better place to live. I cannot imagine a citizen of Boone County who would find these statements acceptable by a taxpayer-funded official.
Right now, their inaction is depriving landowners the right to income from leases associated from this wind farm. This is depriving school districts in the northern part of the county property tax revenue. This inaction is further discouraging economic development in Boone County and slowing down growth in one of the most prosperous areas of Missouri.
This is disappointing coming from an area that says they are leaders for the state.
We urge the Boone County Commission to take this inaction out of the hands of unelected bureaucrats and voluntary board members and to move forward with a wind farm zoning ordinance that properly balances economic opportunity with the safety and well-being of the citizens of this county.
Right now, Boone County is being hijacked by anti-wind activists parroting fossil fuel industry talking points who would rather see our energy produced by faraway coal plants that make dirty power and have no positive impact on the local economy. Building a wind farm in Boone County allows our area to take control of our energy needs and to create jobs and opportunities for our neighbors.
I urge Dan Atwill, Fred Parry, and Janet Thompson to lead Boone County in the right direction and to wrestle this all-important issue from county officials who have decided that this economic opportunity is not worth the time or effort.
James Owen is the Executive Director of Renew Missouri, a 501(c)(3) committed to renewable energy and efficiency policy. Prior to this, James was Public Counsel for the State of Missouri where he served as the ratepayer advocate before the Public Service Commission.