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Sign thefts in Town of Forest leave some residents unnerved  

Credit:  New Richmond News, www.newrichmond-news.com 1 March 2012 ~~

The Town of Forest has been the target for a 102 megawatt wind turbine project that will be comprised of 41 500-foot towers.

Local residents have diligently fought against the project for over a year and a half, even to the point of recalling the all the members of the town board prior to February 2011.

The project is up for approval by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission and is supported by the developer, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin LLC, host land owners and various green lobbyist organizations.

The residents opposed to the project formed the Forest Voice LLC and continue to fight against it due to the decline in surrounding property values and adverse health effects the turbines would cause. Until now, the opposing sides have interacted mainly in town meetings, letters to the editor, and posting signs in yards – all legal activities.

The climate is beginning to change by recent activities of theft and vandalism to private property by the pro-wind side. Many residents opposed to the project are now afraid on how much this will escalate and what will happen next.

Some town residents who oppose the Highland Wind Farm Project had “No Wind Turbine” signs stolen off their properties overnight Feb. 12th. At least 29 signs were illegally removed and the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department was notified. An investigation is currently underway.

The developer of the proposed project Emerging Energies of Wisconsin LLC had just announced last week that they were going to drop a $25 million claim against the township in order to create better relations with the Town of Forest. While it is still not known who removed the signs, it was definitely someone that was unhappy with the local opposition to the project.

This is a project that will receive federal subsidies from the Department Of Energy, which of course is (made possible by) our tax dollars. By removing these signs, it is a clear violation of our First Amendment Rights to express our opposition. It is ironic that the various parties supporting it feel it necessary to deny us this right to the point they would illegally trespass on private property to vandalize and steal.

Many of the people that had the signs stolen are now very concerned about the violation of their private property and how far this could escalate.

Over the past year, there have been threats made and reports of unfamiliar vehicles in the township cruising very slowly and observing residences of people known to be in opposition of the wind development.

It is not right that these folks should have to live in fear in their own houses simply because they choose to exercise their First Amendment rights.

Emerging Energies of Wisconsin LLC needs to step up to the plate on this one and assist local law enforcement in apprehending the perpetrators if they truly want to improve relations with the Town of Forest.

A $100 reward is also available for information leading to an arrest.

Jeff Ericson

Town of Forest

Source:  New Richmond News, www.newrichmond-news.com 1 March 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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