PERRY – Residents who opposed the proposed Dairy Hills Wind Farm are reacting with relief to the new town law that essentially bans such projects.
The Town Board on May 11 approved an extensive set of wind energy regulations which make large-scale industrial wind farms difficult or impossible to build.
The law still needs final state approval, but it seems to have ended an often-contentious, six-year debate on the issue.
“Five and a half years ago a mega million-dollar turbine corporation, Horizon, came into our town of Perry,” said Valary Sahrle, who helped for the Citizens for a Healthy Rural Neighborhood group that opposed Dairy Hills.
“My husband and I began to research this wind company and the ills of the project and formed the group,”she said. “This was a group effort of the people that would have had to live under these turbines.”
The group has never been against wind energy, she said. But it opposed the 450-foot wind turbines that could have been located within the town, within 1,500 feet of people’s houses.
Her husband Gerald Sahrle was elected to the Town Board in 2009 and was among those voting to approve the new law. It still permits wind energy, but limits turbines height to 125 feet, among numerous other stipulations.
“Our tireless hard work and long hours have paid off,”Mrs. Sahrle said. “The town boards are to be commended on their decisions and their endless work.”
“I think the town board did an excellent job of balancing the interests of everyone in the community,” said Colleen Green, who also opposed Dairy Hills. “The amended law accommodates commercial wind development by small businesses in the community as well as individual installations.”
Green still notes arguments about the relative efficiency of commercial wind farms; whether the electricity they produced can be stored; and other issues.
“This amended law doesn’t totally preclude industrial development, but it does protect non-participating residents by making sure turbines can’t be placed too close to residents homes,” Green said. “The amended law encourages practical, workable wind power installations that benefit the community and its residents first, and not as an afterthought.”
Wind energy has been controversial in the town since Horizon Wind Energy proposed Dairy Hills in 2005. The project had originally called for 60 to 80 windmills in Perry, Castile, Covington and Warsaw. But its scope was reduced after Castile and Warsaw enacted similar laws regulating turbine development.
The proposal was further reduced to 38 turbines during a major revision.
Horizon ultimately froze the project in 2009. The Town Board voted a year ago to declare the wind farm application null and void.
A 12-month moratorium on wind energy development was enacted last June.
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