PRINCETON – The Bureau County Board is being asked to consider its legacy when it comes to wind farms and Bureau County.
At Tuesday night’s meeting in Princeton, the Bureau County Board heard from Walnut area residents who don’t want the proposed Walnut Ridge wind farm built, until the county board can take more time to study what has happened with the neighboring Big Sky wind farm and to make sure no other Bureau County residents are adversely affected by wind farms.
For the past two months, the county board has heard from Ohio area residents who live near the Big Sky wind farm and are concerned about the problems they are experiencing and attributing to Big Sky, including television reception interference, shadow flickering and noise.
Group spokesperson Ron Pierson said the group is urging the county board to deny an extension of the Walnut Ridge special use permits, which were issued in August, November and December of 2008, in light of the “alarming new information available about the very real and adverse affects of the wind turbines on the health, safety and quiet enjoyment of residences of those living among the turbines.”
The “alarming information” wasn’t delivered to the Walnut group from people living in other counties or states, but from friends and neighbors who the Walnut area residents have come to know and trust for years, Pierson read through the group statement.
In addition to recommending the county board take time to review data now available, the Walnut group also recommended a one-year moratorium on wind farm construction to study the negative economic effect of wind farms to the county. That negative impact would be felt because of a depreciating tax base from devalued properties, as well as the lack of new development that could bring in new revenue promised but not guaranteed by wind developers, the group stated.
“Most important, the moratorium would limit the legal exposure of the county board to potential litigation from damaged residents and property owners,” Pierson read.
In his personal comments apart from the letter, Pierson said the Walnut Ridge developers have had three years “to get their act together, and they haven’t gotten the job done”.
Pierson recommended letting the Walnut Ridge permits run out, without granting extensions, and having the developers restart the process.
“Let’s slow down. The county board is in the driver’s seat when it comes to what goes on with wind farms. Once those turbines are built, the county has no more bargaining power,” Pierson said. “Just take some time and figure it out. You have the bargaining power to do it now. What do you want your legacy to be?”
The proposed Walnut Ridge wind farm is being developed by Midwest Wind Energy and is expected to have more than 100 turbines spread over 15,000 acres in Ohio, Walnut, Manlius, Bureau and Greenville townships.
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