Matt Gaboda doesn’t want to see Union Township turn into downtown Chicago.
Skyscrapers aren’t in the plans, but the Evansville resident is trying to get the word out to residents that a company is considering the area for wind turbines nearly 400 feet tall.
“It’s just kind of nerve racking,” he said. “I don’t think people realize the permanent effect of something like this and the magnitude of this infrastructure.”
No formal proposals have been brought to the town, but a test weather tower is operating in nearby Magnolia Township.
Gaboda opposes wind energy anywhere in the area because he said it is an inefficient energy form that creates problems for landowners and neighbors.
“I’m just concerned,” he said. “I don’t think this is what the town of Union needs.”
While he admits there’s only potential for a wind farm and EcoEnergy’s plans are in the early stages, Gaboda wants area residents to do their homework before the project picks up speed.
“I’m just concerned once the zoning is approved, conditional use permits, it’s going to be too late,” he said. “Once people complain after they’re built, they’re not coming down.”
Gaboda said that other wind farms have attracted unwanted tourism and “gawkers,” something these townships don’t need, he said.
Gary Haltaufderheide of EcoEnergy said emerging opposition to the idea is part of the process.
“I welcome the opportunity to sit down and talk to these people,” he said.
EcoEnergy is a wind developer that has an office in Beloit and is a member of The MORSE Group, which includes specialty companies anchored in the electrical, energy and construction markets.
On its Web site, EcoEnergy lists several wind projects under development, including “EcoRock Windfarm, EcoMagnolia Windfarm and EcoAvalon Windfarm.”
EcoEnergy is working with landowner Tom Drew in Magnolia Township to determine if the area is windy enough. The town board approved a conditional-use permit for a weather tower, which is one of the first steps in the process of building a wind farm.
The weather tower went up on Drew’s land this spring to measure temperature and wind speed and direction over the next year. Using that data, EcoEnergy will determine if the area would be suitable for turbines.
Haltaufderheide said he has presented landowners in the area of County C and Pleasant Prairie Road in Union Township with contracts.
That worries Gaboda.
“I understand there may never be a wind turbine built, but to me it was really serious to find out contracts were offered,” Gaboda said.
Landowners have lots of questions before they can decide if putting a wind turbine on their property is right for them, Haltaufderheide said. They don’t sign overnight, he said, so getting the paperwork out is part of a long process.
“I’m sure they want to talk to neighbors, family members,” he said. “We’d have to wait for the zoning committee to come up with something. We’re not being real aggressive. There’s a lot of things that have to take place.”
In the meantime, he wants to answer any questions residents and town officials may have about the proposals.
“We’re here to work with you,” he said.
By Gina Duwe
1 June 2007
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