A major point in the debate over the proposed Rail Splitter Wind Farm’s construction of 29 turbines in northern Logan County has been how the structures will affect those who live around them.
“The wind farm will affect my family in several ways,” said Emden resident Brent Hellman. “We will have to adjust.”
Hellman, one of the landowners who has agreed to have a turbine placed on his property, is the one individual who spoke in favor of the project Thursday during a Logan County Zoning Board of Appeals hearing at Hartsburg-Emden High School.
“We have a national railroad 800 feet from our house, and a natural gas pipeline within 200 feet,” he said. “On a cold winter day, I can feel the train running by my house.
“We have cell towers with white strobe lights that flash, but that problem’s been resolved.”
Hellman said it all comes down to the history of progress.
“There will be many changes, but that is progress,” Hellman said. “Where would we be if our parents and our grandparents hadn’t embraced change? “There will definitely be a change (to the landscape) … I don’t think anybody is denying that. There’s been changes to the landscape, since the first settlers have shown up here.”
Hellman said, as a farmer, he realizes there will be several changes – including a change on how he applies chemicals to his crops – however, he said he will be compensated for those changes, along with other landowners in the immediate vicinity of the project.
Hellman, who claims to have conducted his own personal investigation of the benefits and negative aspects of living around wind turbines, said he would never endorse a project that would hurt his community.
I’m here to promote a project that’s positive for Logan and Tazewell county,” Hellman said. “(The turbines) don’t leave any kind of waste or residue.”
In closing his statement, Hellman said the majority should win out in this process.
“In most cases in this state or in the country, issues are settled by the majority,” he said. “The vast majority would say they want this project to go forward.”
Two people who spoke in opposition, property owners Ed and Nancy Knittle, along with Renee Taylor, already live in an area where wind farms are up and running.
The Knittles stated that, before buying their property, they were assured by Horizon Wind Energy the turbines wouldn’t be a disturbance.
“We can hear turbines while brushing our teeth,” said Knittle. “And we see flickering lights on our fireplace. It’s extremely upsetting.”
Nancy Knittle said she chose her property, because “nature was my thing.
“They never told us about blade flicker or red flashing lights … it’s totally devastating,” she said.
“We were falsely misguided. I tried to honor and respect the company and keep this confidential, but I just can’t do it anymore.”
The Knittles said friends recommended the couple wear earplugs when they try to sleep at night.
“When people have to wear earplugs to sleep,” said Ed Knittle. “That’s a problem.”
Taylor said her son, who has autism, has had fits due to the consistent noise produced by the spinning of the turbine blades.
“It’s clearly heard inside of our home,” she said. “Not as loud as outside, but we can still hear it.
“(Since the construction has been complete) my family has headaches and difficulty sleeping.”
Taylor said a physician has told her these medical complications are a direct result of living near the wind turbines.
She said Horizon offered her $25,000 as a settlement, but it meant she could not object to any of their projects or aid in the objection of others who are opposed.
Horizon representatives said Taylor is testifying against the project, because she asked for an unreasonable sum of $750,000 for a property that is worth $185,700.
By Joshua Niziolkiewicz
27 June 2008
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