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Turbines Stir Concerns  

Plain Twp. residents not pleased with plans for wind farm

Residents and officials found clear answers regarding plans to develop a 33-tower wind farm south of U.S. 6 west of Bowling Green to be at a premium Monday night during the Plain Township Trustees meeting.

More than 40 residents attended to express concern about the impact of the towers on the area around Euler Road and Sand Ridge Road, citing negative effects on quality of life and property values in the community.

Residents were also unsatisfied with the lack of information that has so far been made available to the public.

“This has been thrown at us so suddenly that we have not had the time to address this situation accurately”, said Travis Chapin, of Euler Road. “However, we are quite confident that we don’t want a legion of 33 windmills standing guard over our neighborhood with the promise of more wind soldiers in the future.”

A construction goal for the 360-foot-high towers is set for late 2008 with a lease contract between American Municipal Power-Ohio and Bowling Green. AMP-Ohio announced a partnership with JW Great Lakes LLC, of Cleveland, in May to begin feasibility studies and securing easements for development. The wind farm could generate 55 megawatts of electricity. The existing turbines have a capacity of 7.2 megawatts.

Trustee James Avery told residents that he and a trustee from Liberty Township had been contacted by Sue Clark of the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation about two months ago to discuss plans for the towers. Then in late July, he said, landowners included in the preliminary development area were invited by mail to attend another meeting with JWGL at the Central Joint Fire Station. A meeting that will be open to township residents is scheduled for the first two weeks in September, he said.

A map with preliminary plans for development was distributed at the July meeting in Portage, and several residents have since obtained copies of those plans. But Avery said he understood some of the affected area had changed.

Both Avery and Trustee Donald Bechstein own property included in the early plans for development. Addressing concerns from residents that property values would be lowered by the turbines, Avery asked if others would not also consider signing a lease agreement with developers for a $150,000 sum.

In discussions with developers presumably, Avery said he told them “Yeah, I want to be a good neighbor too but I want to look out for Jim too.”

Although a JWGL representative visited his home earlier that day, he said, he had not signed a lease agreement. After the meeting, Avery said he would abstain if called upon to vote on issues regarding the wind towers.

JWGL Director of Project Development Bryan Starry was invited to attend the trustee meeting but was unavailable due to prior engagements, Avery said.

Bechstein said he was “kind of on the fence with it” and had not yet spoken with developers.

Trustee Dean Augenstein, however, said he would deny a permit from JWGL if it came before the board, reserving the right to change his mind if the deal would provide a significant financial benefit to the township. “But I don’t want to see 100 or more windmills down along Euler Road or Sand Ridge Road or any place else,” he said to applause.

It was unclear, though, whether the board would have authority to approve or deny plans to develop turbines in the township.

Fiscal Officer Shirlee Bostdorff said the township had a 50-foot height restriction with exceptions for chimneys, towers, television antennas, “etcetera.” It is at this point unknown whether the turbines are included or precluded from the zoning rules based on that language.

Also unknown is how area airports could be affected by the turbines.”There’s going to be windmills all around my place, it?s going to affect it very much,” said Bernie Steimbaugh, owner of Bordner Airport on Hodgemen Road.
Bostdorff said she had received an e-mail from Starry indicating that it is not believed the turbines would impact the airstrips but that a permit is being sought from the FAA.

Speaking as a resident of Euler Road, Linda Holmes said the row of windmills “will forever change the character of where we live.” Holmes is an assistant in the Wood County prosecutor’s office.

“I don’t think anyone is opposed to wind turbines per se,” she said.

“It seems to me to be a better idea to have pods of five, six, seven, eight even in different locations and not to lump them all in one area.”

Other residents had concerns about strobing effects created by the turbine blades as well as the risk from damaged turbines during severe weather.

Based on the consensus of residents’ concerns, Bostdorff said the township would explore what options existed for regulating the wind turbines. After the meeting, trustees allowed the residents to use the chambers for discussion, while township officials moved into the adjacent shop for their own discussion.

The next board meeting is set for Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the township hall.

August 21, 2007
Will Malone
Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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