Wind energy opponents would like to see strict regulations while land owners hoping to earn up to $6,000 annually for housing a turbine say they prefer more liberal ordinances.
As a result, Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission has taken steps to bring the two sides together to discuss zoning issues and reach a consensus, said Jenny Snapp, commission’s executive director.
In addition, Champaign and Logan counties recently adopted ordinances – and are working on others – that will regulate where turbines can be placed. The ordinances are the first of their kind in Ohio.
“This is something new to all of us – no precedence,” LUC Executive Director Jenny Snapp said of the ordinances. “We have to strike a balance.”
A 10-person committee will start in Logan County, and if effective, be a model for Champaign County, she said.
Members include a wind power representative, an advocate, an opponent, four township officials, a LUC member and a county prosecutor.
Each township has different needs, based on its population density, Snapp said.
For instance, she said, Union Township in Champaign County and Jefferson Township in Logan County have more residential areas and development, unlike Wayne Township in Champaign County, which is more agricultural.
Opinions voiced by opponents and advocates:
Con: Save Western Ohio, a grassroots organization against the wind turbines, has attended zoning meetings to lobby for stricter regulations.
The group has asked that the turbines be placed between 1,000 and 2,000 feet from a neighboring property line, group founder Tom Stacy said.
The nearly 500-foot structures would obstruct the countryside view and impose on neighboring properties, he said.
“What will it be like to live near these machines?” Stacy asked. “They make mountains look small.”
The wind turbines could reduce property values, obstruct landscape and cause excessive noise to residents, she said.
“You’re not going to move out into the country so you can live next to that,” he said.
Pro: Everpower Renewables, a New York-based wind energy developer, and Environment Ohio are advocate of the alternative energy source.
“Ohio is lagging behind when it comes to developing our wind energy resources. Some of our neighbors – Pennsylvania, West Virginia – are really taking advantage of this wind opportunity,” Environment Ohio advocate Amy Gomberg said.
The development could lead to more jobs, extra income for farmers and a reduced use of out-of-state energy sources, she said.
About 13,000 manufacturing jobs could come back to Ohio with a wind energy investment, Gomberg said.
Currently, the state gets about 85 percent of its energy from coal, of which half is imported from other states, she said.
Once developed, wind turbines could supply 10 percent of the state’s energy, Gomberg said.
By LaToya Thompson
15 April 2007
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