A few landowners in Logan County might have the opportunity to lead the way in Ohio with the largest wind power operation in the state if the plans of a few green-energy companies prosper on properties in Jefferson, Monroe and Rushcreek townships.
However, the proposed construction of up to 120 wind turbines in as soon as a year, each up to 550 feet tall, might be a bad move the community will have to live with for a long time, opponents say.
Nearly 100 local residents met Tuesday afternoon at Marmon Valley Farm to discuss the implications of turning Logan County into what would fast become the largest wind power community in the state, while several posed the question: Are developers and landowners moving too quick with a decision that will affect the local community and disturb Logan County’s historic and scenic landscape for generations to come?
After extensive research, Tom Stacy of Zanesfield, and others, believe so.
“This is a way to shelter big company profits from taxes,” Mr. Stacy said. “It’s a symbol; it’s a monument that we’re doing something to conserve energy. The only thing is: It’s not conserving energy. They want to put up at least 100 to 120 of these things soon and it’s going to devastate the property values and scenery around them for miles.”
Mr. Stacy and his supporters are asking the community to reconsider the implications of building “the first planned sky factory development on private land in Ohio” and they hope to launch a 12-month study before moving ahead.
While proponents of wind energy say they are cost effective and safe for the environment, opponents of the development said the large wind turbines are far too loud and cause scenic devastation that significantly decrease property values for neighbors.
Property owners leasing their land to developers, they said, receive a small profit in the short-run, but a much larger “headache” in the long-run.
“This is too big of a thing to let these corporations sweep in here and let it happen in a couple months,” Mr. Stacy said. “We need time to make the proper decision, to research this thing fully before we sign our county away and we’re stuck with these enormous wind turbines for generations to come.”
Rushcreek Township resident Mike Stolly agrees.
“These are sky factories,” Mr. Stolly said. “These are only monuments of our environmental problems. These companies come in and sell their ideas fast before people can rationalize what’s happened to their land.”
Each wind turbine, they argued, would clear up to four acres of wooded land from the peaks of mountains and hills along the rural landscapes, forge the way for access roads and enclose the land with fences and “No Trespassing” signs disturbing to natural habitation.
Once in place, opponents said, the power generated is not enough to significantly curb the consumption of traditional power sources because Ohio is not ideal for wind power.
“Their massive presence become nuisances for neighbors far away,” Mr. Stacy said. “Meanwhile, the energy companies still have to keep the (local power) plants going.”
Mr. Stacy identified three companies under contract with local landowners, companies that are seeking more land.
Gamesa Energy USA of Philadelphia confirmed they intended to develop in Monroe Township, but the project is on hold because of township and county zoning ordinance proceedings.
Third Planet Wind LLC of Bad Ax, Mich., confirmed it is in contract with landowners and RHA Realty of Bellefontaine is confirmed to be on retainer with that company, Mr. Stacy said.
Another developer, Babcock & Brown Renewable Holdings Inc. of Houston, Texas, confirmed it is soliciting contracts with landowners.
Mr. Stacy said Kirkmont Center Church Camp, 6946 County Road 10, Zanesfield, confirmed it is in contract with a developer.
Jefferson Township resident Terry Stolly advised residents in attendance to be careful contracting with the companies because nothing legally obligates the companies to maintain the turbines or remove them when they cease to function.
“There are no documents,” he said. “Twenty to 30 years from now, they’re not going to take them down; they’re not going to go away. It could be like coal mine operations 100 years ago, when they would go in, destroy the land and leave. If the local government doesn’t step in, it’s up to the property owners.”
Jefferson Township Trustees did not attend the meeting, which was announced to be in the township house, following the regular meeting of the trustees. However, because of the anticipated crowd, the turbine session was moved to Marmon Valley Farm. Trustees declined to attend because they had been unable to give 24-hour notice of the meeting location change.
For more information, go to www.savewesternoh.org.
By Brian J. Evans
Bellefontaine Examiner Staff Writer
28 February 2007
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