View Case Record, WS-17-749
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Previously submitted on case CN-17-676
Lake Cochrane is located in Deuel County in South Dakota, less than a half-mile from Yellow Medicine County Minnesota. The lake is spring fed with a deepest point of 28 feet and a mean depth of 13 feet. It has a surface area of 355 acres. It is located in a very pristine area with rolling hills and gulches. There are many species of wildlife in the area including deer, wild turkey, pheasant, osprey, owl and bald eagles. In the spring we see migrating loons, ducks, geese, cranes and we are also in the path of migrating Monarch butterflies. There are two eagle nests within a mile or two of the lake.
The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks operates the Lake Cochrane Recreation Area on the north shore of Lake Cochrane. The recreation area offers camping (30 electric sites), cabin lodging, picnic facilities, a playground and swimming beach. Last year the park hosted over 10,000 visitors and 2,012 overnight camping units. There is even a well used walking and running path encircling the Lake. Because of location and quality of the experience, many of our visitors are from Minnesota.
The shores of the lake are fully developed with 208 cabins and homes. More than 1/3 of them are owned by families that claim Minnesota as their primary residence. Although the lake area is less than one square mile, real estate taxes collected are 9.2% of the entire county. Because of the unique area and therefore high property values, we are very concerned that industrial wind towers placed too close will negatively affect property values. There are numerous studies that support our concern.
In September of 2016 the Lake Cochrane Improvement Association (LCIA) became aware of an industrial wind installation scheduled for quick zoning approval and a construction start in November of 2016. Since several towers were planned within 1 to 2 miles of Lake Cochrane we were most concerned about the environmental impact, noise and views that would be spoiled from the shores of a lake that is one of the few recreational spots in the area. The developer was the same developer, Flying Cow LLC, now proposing another project less than a mile in Minnesota. The developer is a wholly owned subsidiary of a foreign national company based in London, RES. While the ownership is not a problem to us, their high handed and secretive business approach was! The taxes generated were stated to be in excess of $750,000 per year where in fact they were less than $90,000! And their "good neighbor policy" was a sneak attack with no neighbor meetings with the non-participants until a participating land owner leaked the plan to a cabin owner.
The LCIA has worked long and hard to protect one of the cleanest lakes in the area which includes our neighboring counties in Minnesota. Although Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 lakes, not many of those are in the SW part of the state and we consider this lake to be open to all visitors as we have stated. To ruin one of our few recreational and resort lakes with an industrial installation that pollutes with flashing lights, noise and other environmental hazards is not in the best interests of the people in neighboring Minnesota or here in South Dakota! The fact that the developer has once again kept this proposed development a secret from nonparticipating land owners and the LCIA is not acceptable and speaks volumes of their business practices and ethics.
One more item that needs consideration is the designated Seaplane Base on Lake Cochrane. This has the FAA designation of SD2. We have several seaplanes that regularly use Lake Cochrane. Seaplanes and amphibians have regularly used Lake Cochrane since the mid-50's. Because of the increased number of boats and PWCs (many of which are operated by visitors) the safety of watercraft users as well as the aircraft operators became an issue. With the cooperation and support of the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks, the State Transportation Authority, and the FAA, a registered seaplane base was established. The State Boating and Fishing regulations will have instructions for seaplane landing etiquette and safety instructions for watercraft on Lake Cochrane. The FAA Part 77 surfaces issues also need to be considered. If necessary, the LCIA will provide engineering documents for Part 77 compliance to protect the landing area.
The Deuel County Commissioners spent a great amount of time and energy this past year getting public input as they determined and set appropriate setbacks for an updated WES ordinance. They also solicited input from three wind developers that are currently working on projects in the County to allow them to go forward. Because the Lake Cochrane recreational area is such a unique place they determined that there would be no industrial turbines built within three miles of this Lake Park District.
We request that the regulators in Minnesota also respect the research and decision of the Deuel County Commissioners to help protect the area for the many Minnesota residents and others who visit or own property on Lake Cochrane.
The Lake Cochrane Improvement Association requests that Flying Cow prepares some visuals of what these proposed turbines would look like from the Shores of Lake Cochrane for the public meeting that will be held in Canby Minnesota. Thank you.
Lake Cochrane is located in one of the most pristine areas in the region. This recreational area is a real gem not only for Deuel County SD but the whole region. Visual beauty of the surrounding area and skylines are very important to those living or visiting Lake Cochrane. It's one of the primary reasons for spending leisure time there.
Most zoning regulations are intended to preserve and protect existing property values against adverse and unharmonious adjacent uses. It is hard to think of anything more intrusive or unnatural to be placed in this pristine, natural environment than 500+ foot wind turbines. At three miles these monsters are still very daunting to look at but somewhat easier to accept than at the proposed 1.7 miles.
The other major concern of industrial wind turbines is the noise they will produce. During the day on weekends and holidays, the lake is very busy with boating activities. Other than those periods, the background noises at the lake are very low. Especially in the evening and at night, about the only sounds that you hear are those created by any winds that we might have. We have not water pumps running, no noise from street lights, no industrial air conditioning or heater systems, no industrial mechanical ventilation systems, no industrial parks, no neighbors behind or in front of us. In regard to traffic noise, there is only one road that goes around the lake with no highways nearby.
Because our background noises are so low we know the turbines placed 1.7 miles from the lake will be heard and under certain circumstances will be a major problem. Richard E. Berg, a Physics Professor at the University of Maryland, Coauthor of "Physics of Sound", and a major contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica.com state this, "At night or during periods of dense cloud cover a temperature inversion occurs; the temperature of the air increases with elevation, and the sound waves are refracted back to the ground. Temperature inversion is the reason why sounds can be heard much more clearly over longer distances at night than during the day--an effect often incorrectly attributed to the psychological result of nighttime quiet. The effect is enhanced if the sound is propagated over water, allowing sound to be heard remarkably clear over great distances."
In addition to this, normally trees and shelterbelts help tone down noise from land uses, but there is no way to block noise from an industrial turbine that emits about 105dB(A) noise at the hub which is situated some 300+ feet in the air. The only cure is distance.
Respectfully on behalf of the Lake Cochrane Improvement Association (LCIA)