It was a long evening for about 100 people who attended a public hearing on the county’s wind energy ordinance, Thursday, and for the Resource Planning Committee members who listened to four hours of testimony.
The end result was the RPC made the unusual decision to adjourn at 11 p.m. and schedule a second public hearing for Oct. 18, so those who didn’t get a chance to speak could finish.
The purpose of the public hearing was to give people the opportunity to express their opinions, either for or against, the revisions to a county wind energy ordinance first developed in 1999.
First up were the wind energy proponents, many who wore “Support Community Wind Energy” buttons passed out by supporters at the beginning of the meeting.
In all, 27 people expressed their support for the ordinance, but their comments largely supported wind energy in general as a necessary, sustainable alternative to finite fossil fuels like coal and oil.
“Our major sources of energy are controlled by enemies of our country and that’s a very hard thing to take,” said John Enigl Sr. of Egg Harbor. “Wind power can supply part of that.”
Proponents said wind energy was good for the environment, for eco-tourism, for the globe’s health and our childrens futures.
“I would rather live in the shadow of these turbines then live in the shadow of a nuclear power plant or coal-fired plant,” said Jim Adams of Sturgeon Bay.
Several members of Community Wind Energy, LLC, addressed the ordinance specifically.
The six men who founded the limited liability corporation want to offset about 25 percent of Door County’s energy needs with small clusters of large commercial wind turbines.
Supportive of the ordinance, they also pointed out that the studies required for sound, shadow flicker, communications and well water baseline testing might prohibit a small, community-based company from developing wind energy in Door County.
“I’m in favor of the present ordinance even as it stands,” said Guy Fortin, a CWE principal. “But the safeguards that were added in the nature of studies are such that they may allow only large outside developers to come in with deep pockets and afford the multiple studies before and after.”
While it took two hours for 27 people to speak for the ordinance, only four opponents were able to speak during the same time frame before the meeting was adjourned.
All four were members of the Clay Banks Wind Energy Committee who prepared written presentations based upon the research they’ve been doing since the committee was formed by the Clay Banks Town Board in June.
It was an “ordinance of convenience” that relied too heavily on the state’s model ordinance, and didn’t represent a, “full, in-depth study and understanding of the issues,” said Mike Johnson, chairman of the town of Clay Banks.
“We are in support of the rewrite of the county ordinance, however, we are deeply concerned by the inadequate study and research conducted to reach the conclusions contained in your proposed ordinance,” Johnson said.
The members addressed the county’s reliance upon the state model ordinance, the county process, visual aesthetics, interference with communication signals, fire protection, and shadow flicker studies.
Their comments indicated where they believed the ordinance failed to protect the public’s health and safety through language that was either inadequate, nonexistent, or lacking in factual basis.
“And please remember that we are writing an ordinance not for one (wind) developer, but for an entire industry,” said Doug Weimer, member of the Clay Banks committee.
Opponents will be able to finish their testimony at the next public hearing, Oct. 18.
After that, the RPC will discuss the county ordinance and decide how to proceed during a regular business meeting scheduled for Nov. 1.
The RPC recommendation will then go to the county board, which will have the final say.
By Deb Fitzgerald
Door County Advocate
6 October 2007
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