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Clay Banks will consider wind turbine moratorium

The Clay Banks Town Board will decide whether to establish a moratorium on wind turbines Thursday morning after residents voice their views at a public hearing.

Residents will speak on a moratorium to delay installation of any wind turbine or windmills. The hearing will start at 8 a.m. at the Clay Banks Town Hall.

The town’s recently established Windmill Planning Committee may eventually formulate a local wind ordinance in lieu of changes made to the county measure next month by Door County’s Resource Planning Committee.

Town Chairman Mike Johnson discussed the Resource Planning Committee decision to revise the county ordinance when the six-member Windmill Planning Committee held its first meeting Saturday, May 26.

“We need to have the confidence that when the county does their work, they will need to protect the health and safety standards of our people,” said Johnson, who is chairman of the Windmill Planning Committee.

In early March, Door County Supervisor Bob Ryan, who also represents the town, made a motion to have the RPC work with the corporation counsel to revise the county wind energy ordinance.

“I find it quite interesting this issue came out of nowhere as far as county records were concerned,” Johnson said.

At the annual town meeting, he asked residents to carefully consider any decision they make on windmills in light of health impacts and potential reductions in property value.

Revisions are being made to the county wind ordinance to comply with state and federal guidelines, according to Door County Planner Mariah Goode.

One committee member, Doug Weimer, talked about the need for the committee to address the issue as soon as possible.

“We need to be proactive, not reactive, so when the county comes out with its ordinance, we’re ready,” Weimer said.

Another member, Tom Hintz, was appointed Saturday by Johnson to the Windmill Planning Committee.

Other members include Town Supervisor Mark Heimbecher and citizen member Chris Jensen.

As he handed out copies of the state statute regarding wind energy, Johnson told the committee it needs to be objective and to avoid becoming emotional.

He also gave the committee information on how other municipalities address the issue.

He gave the committee a 1999 letter from the Wisconsin Utility Tax Association that raised questions about wind energy, including whether Wisconsin can be a wind generation area.

It also asks what rules and regulations the state has for determining placement and whether the towers may be a blight on the landscape.

About a dozen residents attended the meeting, including three who spoke beforehand.

Tom Drager, a civil and environmental engineer, said he supports wind power, but added “the adverse impacts seem real.”

Guy Fortin, a representative of Community Wind Energy, said wind turbines do not lead to reduced property values, according to two national studies.

John Hippensteel, a wind energy proponent, said a town petition had been circulated opposing wind energy because of health issues and reduced property values. Those and other issues must be clarified, he said.

No permits were ever taken out to install the proposed three 400-foot wind turbines in the town, for example.

The proposal is part of a feasibility study and proper steps must be taken before construction begins.

“The town needs to look at the facts, not conjecture,” Hippensteel said of the petition. “It was one-sided and mostly conjecture.”

By Kurt Rentmeester
Advocate correspondent

Green Bay Press-Gazette

30 May 2007