Art Burtnett has what he calls a “million-dollar view” at his home on Evitts Mountain.
The lifelong Bedford Township resident said he lives where there’s so little artificial light that the moon and stars are visible most nights.
He thinks wind turbines, which several wind energy companies want to erect in Bedford County, are “eyesores.”
Some residents have a different perspective.
“Everybody is trying to tell everybody else what to do with their ground,” farm owner Tom Eschmann told Bedford Township supervisors Tuesday.
The revenue he could earn by leasing his land for a turbine might prevent him from having to sell his farm, he said.
Supervisors are mulling over an ordinance that would regulate turbines. The ordinance, which addresses issues such as shadow flicker, noise volume and setback distance from other properties, still is in the draft stage.
The earliest the board will vote on it is next month. Then supervisors have to advertise it for 30 days before adopting it officially.
About 60 residents crammed into the municipal building Tuesday, some speaking out against turbines and some talking in favor of them. The meeting grew heated at times, with some residents accusing supervisors of being biased in favor of wind energy companies and ignoring their concerns.
A few members of Save Our Allegheny Ridges, a Bedford grassroots organization opposed to turbines on local ridgetops, is worried about declining property values.
“From what I’ve been told, there’s no depreciation,” Supervisors’ Chairman Kermit Frazier told residents.
Not everyone agreed with him.
“I do think [turbines] would reflect the value of the property in a negative way,” said Bill Krizner, Coldwell Banker realtor. “People come here for the peaceful countryside and scenic views.”
Jerry Miller of Belden Road, another lifelong Bedford Township resident, said he also appreciates the beauty of the countryside.
“But everybody doesn’t like to pay $2 and $3 for gas,” said Miller, adding that few complain about the cell phone towers that dot the county. “We’re going to have to bite the bullet one way or another.”
Some wind turbine opponents argue that the energy produced goes into a complicated electrical grid, with small amounts benefiting local residents.
Resident Neil Buterbaugh told the board that he and the others aren’t necessarily against wind turbines.
“It’s the location of them,” he said.
Property owners stand to lose “hundreds of thousands of dollars” if wind energy companies line local ridgetops with turbines, he said.
“Nobody is going to buy a property looking at those monstrosities,” Buterbaugh said.
Several companies, including Florida Power and Light, are looking to expand into Bedford County. FPL owns the three wind facilities in Somerset County.
By Allison Bourg, email@example.com
21 February 2007
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