When we moved to Monroe County, we did so knowing that the area is strongly Republican. Though that is not my political flavor of choice, I took hope from the legacy of Progressivism in Wisconsin that the Republicanism here would be the kind that cared about ordinary folks, family farms and a good life for rural residents. The kind of Republicanism that gets my goat, the kind that blindly serves the interests of city banks, big corporations, and the investor class, I hoped would be weak here.
The wind turbine ordinance is a case in point. Will it favor business interests and the “rights of investors” far away, or will it protect the health and property rights of local residents, those of us who will have to live with the turbines for decades while city folks use the electricity?
I am most troubled by the ordinance’s details concerning setbacks. Not only are the proposed setbacks inadequate for protecting the health of those of us living in their neighborhood (according to best practice in the industry and relevant medical research), they also violate a fundamental property right. The “footprint” of turbines extending across property lines will prevent us from building within those large chunks of our land as our needs grow, effectively stealing the use of the land from us. I cannot understand how the zoning committee and county board could allow such an injustice to pass.
Lastly, Invenergy has failed to disclose all of its plans for the Summit Ridge Power Project. We still don’t have a final map of turbines sites, nor do we know how they will be connected, where transmission lines (or cables) will run, and how it will connect to and serve the local grid. This lack of forthrightness is dismaying.
Until the ordinance is rewritten to protect the health and property rights of all residents (not just those hosting the turbines), this project must be put on hold. Further, without full and honest disclosure of Invenergy’s plans, it is irresponsible of the zoning committee and county board to consider, let alone approve, a conditional use permit.
Robert D. Larson,
19 April 2007
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