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Group airs concerns on wind turbines

As differing information continues to spin throughout the county concerning the growing issue of wind turbines, a group of northern Adams County residents known as, “Adams County, Save our Skies,” met at the Riverside Center in Decatur on Tuesday evening to discuss their concerns about potential construction of wind turbines in the county.

Hilary Shifferly, who headed the meeting, told those present to write letters, make phone calls and attend hearings offered by county government officials in order to express their concerns about the turbine issue. Shifferly said that the fact that her home could be located within 1,000 feet of a turbine someday is of great concern, especially for health and safety concerns.

Of the approximately 75 people attending the meeting, many admitted that they don’t have enough information at this point to make a final decision on the issue.

“You can attend public hearings,” Shifferly told those present. “They (County Planning Commission) have to have public hearings.”

Another resident said that she saw the possibility of wind turbines as a way of bringing employment and a sense of economic interest to the community. She stated that it seems like every community in the county is growing except Decatur. She emphasized that she sees the wind turbine possibility as an opportunity to have someone come and help the Decatur area grow.

Shifferly expressed that areas that concern her include noise, safety issues, agriculture impacts and the toll on county infrastructure.

“At least 40-50 decibels can make it difficult to fall asleep,” said Shifferly. “Things that can hinder people from falling to sleep include sleep disruption, fatigue and exhaustion, difficulty in concentrating, annoyance, depression and anxiety.

“My research says that the noise level of wind turbines is 40-50 decibels. That can be loud enough to disturb sleep,” added Shifferly. “Sound from turbines is inconsistent and unpredictable.”

Safety factors to be considered, said Shifferly, include the possibility of turbine fires, sparks emitted into dry fields, tower collapse, blade throw, ice throw and shadow flicker.

Shifferly said that cell phone interference, 911 interruption and disruption of antenna, radio, internet, GPS and doppler radar broadcasts can all be a product of the presence of turbines. She also noted that farmers are concerned about aerial spraying, chemical spray distribution, and environmental impacts to some birds.

“I’m also concerned about the impact of the turbines on visual pollution and property values,” continued Shifferly. “What about the growth of Decatur. If we have wind turbines here, will people want to move here? Will companies want to build here? What about the roads which will take the punishment of the huge machinery being moved in to construct them?

“If 300 of these turbines are constructed on somebody’s property, there are still 34,000 people in this county that will be impacted,” continued Shifferly. “The burden of proof of all of this is not for a hand full of us that are concerned, but on those taking action on behalf of the turbines.”

Shifferly said that positives in turbine installation includes monetary gain of landowners, property tax decrease, a certain amount of jobs and a temporary influx of those coming to construct the turbines, and their investment in local restaurants, motels and personal needs.”

Several of those present asked for a moratorium on action by the planning commission in order to slow down turbine consideration to allow more time to examine the matter.

“I’m not interested in stopping turbines; I’m not excited about having one 1,000 feet from my home,” said Shifferly. “What I would like to know is, what does the wind do coming off the turbines? What about wind in relation to chemicals in the air? I simply want county officials to provide safety for us. I want them set back far enough for our safety.”