I am glad Mr. Jones brought up the issue of special use permits in his letter praising the wind turbine project. He failed to mention while talking about “the people” opposed to the project whether he has any personal interest in it.
Some of the residents in the area may well have had to get a special use permit to build their homes. This means that there had to be approval by that zoning committee to do so. This area is a combination of farms, homes and farmettes. This area is a rural area and not an industrial area. When the county approved the building of these homes it gave these owners a voice in their own community. That does not mean a handful of larger land owners can dictate how they want to change the environment. What Mr. Jones failed to remind us is the special-use panel that heard the arguments for and against the wind turbines disapproved a permit for that project. The fact is just because you own land or a farm does not give you the right to build anything you want on it.
Just because you run a farm as a business does not mean you can do any kind of business on it. And, just because they call this project a “wind farm” does not make it a farm.
In my opinion, the real issue here is that the residents (a very large number of them) do not want these 400 foot monstrosities in their rural environment. They attended the hearings in a polite and orderly manner, testified before the panel and the panel agreed with them. The County Board decided to ignore this ruling. At the County Board meeting some members agreed with the people and voted against this project. The Board had reams of testimony to review because they did not attend those hearings. It would be almost impossible to have read all the testimony in such a short time. One board member even pleaded to have more time to go over the testimony. He was denied and subsequently voted against the project. Another member reminded the board that this project did not meet several of the criteria for approval. That testimony was also ignored.
The County Board and the head of the Zoning department have ignored the people. The people had to hire lawyers to represent them against the very people that are paid to look out for their interests. Some board members did not return calls when these people attempted to voice their opinions. At another public meeting of the board the people were not allowed to speak. At a recent board meeting concerning a property protection plan the people again had to hire an attorney to speak on their behalf. At that meeting board members listened intently as the lawyers for these wind turbine companies spoke, however, when the attorney for the people was allowed to speak, two members of the board began talking amongst themselves ignoring the testimony of the people’s attorney. One even left the room for quite awhile to make copies of papers. Did they hear the voice of the people? Did they care?
This shows me they are not concerned with what the residents of this county feel. This is the main crux of this issue and it is not only in this county. It appears to surface in other counties and throughout this country. We have people elected to represent us and they are not doing so.
In this case, a special-use panel is put in place to hear the facts and make a decision. If the County Board does not want to listen to that panel and does not want to allow time to evaluate the testimony from those hearings than they should abolish the panel and require all members to attend the hearings and vote at the end of the testimony.
The people opposing this destruction of our rural landscape are good people. They are not the enemy. They want to preserve our environment so other generations can enjoy it.
They are the people of this community and they must not be ignored.
4 March 2007
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