TUSTIN – Mark Schmidt moved to the area 29 years ago to pursue the peace and quiet of country life. Now, he’s worried the lifestyle he has built could soon be disturbed by proposed commercial wind farms.
Schmidt’s Sherman Township neighborhood is targeted by two developers for the setting of wind turbines.
“This is going to make a dramatic difference to the personality of the neighborhood,” he told a group of citizens gathered at Tustin Community Center Oct. 4 for a public discussion on the planned wind farms.
Proposals by Heritage Sustainable Energy, LLC and Babcock & Brown Renewable Energy Holdings, Inc. call for the installation of dozens of 2.5 megawatt turbines across Osceola, Wexford and Missaukee counties. Turbine towers plus blades will each exceed 400 feet.
“We’re zoned residential and agriculture,” Schmidt said. “This is industrial. These are big, bad boys.”
Schmidt is concerned about the potential for flying ice during winter months, light flicker caused by the moving blades, noise and the degradation of the heritage view. A developer’s meteorological test tower located on a neighbor’s property has already encroached on the scenic view from his home.
“Instead of seeing the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, there is this flicker from the tower,” he said.
During the three-hour meeting, the discussion drew more questions than answers.
“Three months ago I went to a meeting and I still don’t have the answer to my four questions,” complained one property owner.
The woman said she wants to understand how wind farm development would affect local roads and traffic, flicker, noise levels and how property values would be impacted.
Her frustration was repeated by another participant.
“I plan to build a large home in Sherman Township. But no one knows what’s going on,” she said.
The issue of individual and community benefits was another topic of debate with many questioning compensation. “What’s in it for me if my property isn’t optioned or leased?” was a repeated topic.
Several citizens said they found it impossible to decide whether they are for or against the proposed wind farms because they did not believe they received adequate answers to their questions.
Schmidt also raised questions pertaining to the actual environmental benefits of wind power, the role of government subsidies for developers, the health impacts of constant exposure to low level noise and bird kill.
Schmidt is one of a group of citizens becoming more vocal with their concerns regarding the wind farms since projects were announced in early 2007. He is advocating for township government to proceed with caution as developers get their projects on the fast track.
“At the very least, I would like this township to dig its heels in and postpone decisions for two years,” he told the Cadillac News.
Schmidt presented a list of concerns to the Sherman Township Board Monday. The board is in the process of drafting wind turbine ordinances.
By Sally Barber
15 October 2007
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