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Shineldeckers ready to move as Lake Winds Energy Park turbines go up  

So there it sits, a four-bedroom house on 16 prime acres, waiting for someone else to call it “home.” There’s a pond, there’s a rye field that could be any kind of field or just an open area. There are grape vines, several varieties of apple trees, birds ranging from an oriole nesting in the giant birch out back to eagles and red-tailed hawks flying overhead. More than 20 varieties of waterfowl have used the pond in the last 18 years. Mallards, Canada geese and wood ducks have raised young on the property. They don’t believe $260,000 for the house, the property and several outbuildings is unfair. Karen said if someone thinks it’s worth less, she’s willing to listen. They’ve tried to have it assessed, but assessors don’t really want to say how much it’s worth right now. They tried to sell through real estate agents, but say they have been turned down. Karen is clear. They’re not looking for a payday. She scoffs at the utility’s “Good Neighbor” payments. She wants one thing: out.

Credit:  Brian Mulherin - Daily News Staff Writer | Ludington Daily News | www.ludingtondailynews.com 26 June 2012 ~~

RIVERTON TOWNSHIP – Karen Shineldecker’s voice cracks when she talks about it, but there are no tears. They’re all gone. She and her husband, Cary, are trying to sell their house on 16 acres. It’s a four-bedroom house with wood floors, dozens of windows, shaded by majestic trees and a world-class view of the surrounding farmland.

But Karen and Cary don’t go into the breakfast nook anymore because they don’t care to look at the three 476-foot wind turbines they can see from there. The 16 acres features five acres of apple trees and Karen keeps her beehives there. She tries not to think about the article she read and the maps she saw showing colonies disappearing in wind farms.

“It was like a perfect overlay,” she said.

The remaining 11 acres is circled by invisible fence, so their beagles can play. But now it’s she who is feeling fenced in.

The second-story porch where they take their morning coffee is still a pleasant place, but she can’t help looking at the turbine base 1,100 feet to the southeast.

Everywhere she looks, there’s a wind turbine going up.

They want out in the worst way for so many reasons, but there are no takers.

Cary ran an advertisement with some biting sarcasm during the weekend’s energy fair. They actually got one phone call.

“He said ‘I’ll drive by and see what I think,’” Karen said. “‘If I like it, I’ll call you back.’”

There has been no follow-up call.

The stance

It was the Shineldeckers’ stance against the setbacks that allow so many turbines so close that cost them their friendship with their neighbors and even parishioners at their church.

It’s not just the loss of her home of 18 years – they’re determined to move, whatever the cost – it’s also the loss of those relationships with neighbors.

“It’s sad for me,” she said. “That’s all I can say. It’s just sad.”

Although they don’t live close to other people, they were close. They were far away, but still neighbors.

“We don’t even have stuff on the windows because we don’t have neighbors,” she said of the house.

It was the kind of place where a neighbor drove by and noticed windows open with rain coming and walked into the house and shut them. They called Karen to say they had done it.

“And it was fine!” Karen said.

Now she said those neighbors don’t speak to them.

“It’s like a scarlet letter,” Karen said.

No one waves anymore. If you know Riverton, you know what a big deal that is – it’s a place where everyone waves, even at strangers.

They stopped going to church after someone told her, “You won’t find solace here.”

“It was like a sucker punch,” Karen said. “Everything you could count on was taken away. All you can count on is a very small group of people.”

She understands that people wanted their turbines, wanted the money from turbines. She doesn’t understand why they would hate her and her family for trying to protect what’s theirs. She’s heard that some feel their stance is from jealousy over money. Nothing could be further from the truth, she said.

“I never called anybody, I didn’t yell at them,” Karen said. They stood up and said their piece in public meetings. That’s why the meetings are there. “We pay taxes like everybody else. We work hard.”

But standing up for the place they love came with a cost that’s proven too high. The process with the county and the fight over the setbacks has left her disappointed, drained.

“I can’t even put into words how I feel… betrayed?” she said.

“I’m not against the turbines. They shouldn’t be on top of me – that’s all.”

Construction

While the rolling terrain may hide all but the blades of a few turbines, it highlights the one closest to their home.

“It’s a domination now,” Karen said. “When you come over Morton hill right now, it’s like War of the Worlds. It’s like an invasion.”

As she looks out toward the road, a White Construction truck rolls by. Not speeding, but it’s one too many trucks after two months of one too many trucks. She looks away in disgust.

Every truck, every part, every turbine is another twist of the knife to her.

“It’s a weight,” she said.

“They could have saved so much time and money,” she said. “They could have saved a million by saying to people who were severely affected, ‘Hey, we’re going to give you this much under market value.’ But they didn’t. Because they didn’t have to.”

So the Shineldeckers watch the turbines go up, one by one. They’re not wondering anymore how many they’ll see. They’ll see one or more out every window of their home.

She’s afraid the stars will be gone. She’s certain her will to look up past the blinking turbine lights is gone. Everything they moved to Riverton for – peace, quiet, scenery – is gone, at least in their minds.

“I just don’t feel like they should have sacrificed someone’s livelihood,” Karen said. “I hope our county is ready for this. I really do.”

But she’s not ready for it. She’s ready to move. Cary’s ad said they’ll move somewhere between Maine and Alaska and she’s not sure it was really sarcasm.

They moved as far out of town as they could while their boys, Andy and David, were still in school.

“We drove a little farther,” Karen said. “For the quiet, for the scenery, for the peace.”

The property

So there it sits, a four-bedroom house on 16 prime acres, waiting for someone else to call it “home.” There’s a pond, there’s a rye field that could be any kind of field or just an open area. There are grape vines, several varieties of apple trees, birds ranging from an oriole nesting in the giant birch out back to eagles and red-tailed hawks flying overhead. More than 20 varieties of waterfowl have used the pond in the last 18 years. Mallards, Canada geese and wood ducks have raised young on the property.

They don’t believe $260,000 for the house, the property and several outbuildings is unfair. Karen said if someone thinks it’s worth less, she’s willing to listen. They’ve tried to have it assessed, but assessors don’t really want to say how much it’s worth right now. They tried to sell through real estate agents, but say they have been turned down.

Karen is clear. They’re not looking for a payday. She scoffs at the utility’s “Good Neighbor” payments. She wants one thing: out.

She can still see the beauty of their home, but she can’t stay there anymore.

It’s still perfect, she said, but not for her, not for Cary, not for Andy or David.

“For that certain person not bothered by them,” Karen said.

She’s not that person. She wishes she was, but she knows she can’t live with so many turbines looming so close.

“It’s sad for me, that’s all I can say,” Karen said. “It’s just sad. We’ve been here for going on 18 years, raised our children here. I don’t think they’ll come back.”

Source:  Brian Mulherin - Daily News Staff Writer | Ludington Daily News | www.ludingtondailynews.com 26 June 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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