Plan Commission addresses concerns about wind turbines

Authored by Jim Langham on Mar 16, 2012

Adams County Planning Commission legal counsel Adam Miller told those calling for a moratorium on wind turbines at Thursday's meeting that the commission does not have the authority to implement such a moratorium.
Miller said that he had done legal research on the matter and didn't find any place where there had been a moratorium placed on allowing wind turbines into an area.
"We have to look at all of the factors," said Miller. "We have to look at a person's right to do what they want with their real estate. Can you stop a person from doing what they want to do with their ground? You can't pass an ordinance to prohibit."
The ordinance (put in place by the Planning Commission in 2010) states that the closest a wind turbine can come to a property line is one and a half times the height of the tower, said Miller.
Miller said that the local commission was bound to state regulations concerning the matter in many ways. He noted that the ordinance currently in place was aimed at protecting all residents' rights and interpreting state regulations concerning the situation.
"Approach the state legislature with your concerns," Miller said. "If safety and welfare is at hand, it affects the whole state."
Hillary Shifferly made a presentation to the commission representing a group of citizens that have concerns about the safety of allowing wind turbines into the county. Shifferly told commission members that the impact of concern could be lessened by increasing setbacks from property lines, setting noise limits, placing height limits on turbines, implementing a property value protection plan and requiring waiver participation for landowners.
In addition, Shifferly called for complaint procedures, a good neighbor clause allowing protection, and permitting procedures similar to pubic utilities. Shifferly also called for concurrent review of the wind turbine ordinance. She noted that many residents would like to have a moratorium to address the problem. That's when Miller responded with an explanation of the impossibility of satisfying such a request.
Much of Shifferly's presentation dealt with health issues such as noise and the potential of dangerous turbine accidents such as fires, collapse and blades flying off the structures.
When Shifferly noted that there were 75 turbine fires reported over a five-year-period, Commission member Randy Colclasure asked Shifferly how many operating turbines there are on a national and worldwide basis.
Colclasure also addressed concerns about farmer chemical spray being blown around by the turbines.
"Farmers aren't going to spray at a turbulent level," said Colclasure, implying that the wind issue was mute since spray wouldn't be a problem during times of increased wind.
One audience member said that the project is so new to many county residents that there are a significant amount of unknowns. He said that wind turbines originated in areas of low population, noting that their presence around more dense population areas is relatively recent.
Shifferly also noted that many residents have concerns about property value, limiting the growth of homes, electricity rates, fossil fuel usage, stray voltage and high voltage power, deterioration of roads during construction and the sustainability of companies.
Resident LeAnne Busick stated that she trusts the Planning Commission members and the research they did when they put the county ordinance into place.
"I feel that the board studied hard in order to develop this ordinance," said Busick. "There are a lot of things beyond what we heard here tonight. I talked to an Ohio farmer who said that there is no noise of any kind involved with the turbines close to him. It seems like all we've heard tonight is the bad. There is a lot of good from all of this, too.
"What about the noise level of having television on all day or the danger of cancer from holding cell phones to our ears all of the time," continued Busick.
"Are these really that dangerous compared to these things that we do every day? When I talk to people who live around the turbines, I hear completely different things than I heard here tonight."

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Roger and Tara S said...

I'm not sure why all the fuss? These are a renewable energy source that could lower our energy cost, good for the environment, and are acually quite fascinating to look at.