Emotions continue to play a major part of the wind energy debate in Adams County as seven speakers – four against allowing wind development, three in favor – addressed the Clayton Zoning Board of Appeals during a public hearing Monday evening.
Clayton has debated whether to allow wind energy development within village boundaries and the surrounding 1.5-mile radius, enacting a moratorium on development until a decision is made.
The Zoning Board will review testimony – both oral and submitted – before it makes a recommendation to the Clayton village trustees. Another public hearing was held Aug. 9.
Samuel DeMoss of Clayton, who previously collected 196 signatures against allowing the construction of wind turbines within 1.5 miles of Clayton, told the Zoning Board the town doesn’t need wind turbines.
“Don’t try to change our variances,” he said. “Just leave it like it is. Let us all go ahead with our lives the way they are.”
Terry Smith, who lives and farms on land between Camp Point and Clayton, reiterated a survey conducted by the Adams County Farm Bureau during the Adams County Fair that showed 82 percent in favor of wind farms, 10 percent against and 8 percent undecided.
He said that the petition circulated around Clayton mentioned that wind turbines would negatively effect “future economic expansion.”
“How many more times is Clayton going to pass on economic development while waiting for economic development to come to Clayton?” Smith said.
Sharon Upchurch of Canton, Mo., also spoke in favor of wind energy development. Her family owns land within the zoning radius.
“There are too many people who want to have a say about our property who do not own property not only in this town or in that 1.5-mile zone,” she said. “I don’t think people who don’t own property should have anything to say about it, and they have no right to say anything about it. My guess is if I try to go on to their property and tell them what to do with it, they wouldn’t like it very much and I don’t either.”
Clayton resident Tom Rae said he wasn’t against taking rights away, but he was against people taking his rights away.
“Before you start downing Clayton for trying to decide what they want to do with their town, I think you better step back and think of what you are doing,” he said.
Tamara Smith said she found it frustrating that Clayton should have a say on what people outside Clayton do with their property.
“We, the country people, have invested in our land and pay our taxes, but yet the town’s people feel they have the right to dictate to us what we should or shouldn’t do without any vested interest in the land whatsoever,” she said.
Karen Loeschen of Golden said three minutes wasn’t enough time to address her qualms with wind energy, so she kept her comments brief.
“If you can keep the affects of that wind turbine totally on your property, why would I care?” she said. “But I don’t think that is going to happen, and I think there are going to be some jaws dropped when you start seeing hundreds of wind turbines going up in this county.”
John Gebhardt, spokesman for the Advocates for Responsible Energy Development, warned the board of risks associated with wind energy development.
“If you haven’t personally visited one of these coming from the larger wind turbine complexes when they are fully operating, you are missing what they really sound like, especially if sited within 1,320 feet of a residence, as allowed for, in the Adams County wind ordinance,” he said.
Clayton village attorney Barney Bier said the Zoning Board should have a meeting in the near future to deliberate on wind development, but a date has yet to be set.
Acciona Energy North America has been developing the $300 million Prairie Mills Wind Farm with Global Winds Harvest in the Camp Point, Clayton and Golden vicinity. All three communities have taken steps to limit the construction around them, in accordance with state law.
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