Residents who packed into the LaFargeville Central School auditorium Wednesday listened to three speakers give their opinions on wind farm development.
The Environmentally Concerned Citizens Organization hosted the meeting. About 150 people heard presentations from Gerald A. Smith, a local ornithologist; Paul E. Carr, a professor of engineering at Cornell University, Ithaca, and Dr. John W. Jepma, president of the group.
Jepma, a physician who works at the Clayton Family Health Center, lives in the Horse Creek Wind Farm’s proposed project area. Dr. Jepma said the group is not against wind power, but is opposed to the proposal that would put 62 turbines between Gunns Corners and Depauville, believing it needs to be laid out with larger setbacks.
Jepma said he would not be comfortable living within the current Horse Creek Wind Farm’s proposed project area because of health concerns.
“I would not stay in my house,” he said. “Personally, I wouldn’t risk it.”
He said countries in Europe are requiring turbines be set back a kilometer and a half, or just under a mile, from residences because of health concerns.
Jepma said people who live near wind farms can suffer from wind turbine syndrome. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea and difficulty sleeping, he said. While it has not been proven, scientist are investigating whether people who live near wind turbines can also suffer from vibroacoustic disease, he said. Vibroacoustic disease leads to heart disease as a result of exposure to low-frequency noise.
Carr, discussing the town of Clayton’s proposed zoning law for turbines, said setbacks of 1,250 feet from homes are not adequate.
“That setback is very close,” Carr said. “It’s not much of a setback at all.”
He said a distance of somewhere from 2,500 to 3,500 feet would be ideal.
He also cautioned the town to look at the noise requirements in its zoning law, which allow 50 decibels. Carr said the law should limit noise to no more than five decibels above the ambient sound level, which, in some rural communities, can be measured at about 30 decibels at night.
Smith said several years of studies on birds are needed before a wind farm is built. He said raptors or grassland birds not only will die as a result of flying into turbines, but will lose valuable habitat as a result of wind farm development.
“The issue of wind turbines splits the environmental movement more than any other issue I’ve seen,” he said.
Smith lives just a few miles from the Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis county. Five years ago he supported the wind farm, but today he has several concerns, he said.
By Kelly Vadney
Watertown Daily Times
13 September 2007
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