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Wind farm foes hiring attorney

AUBURN – A leader of Concerned Citizens of DeKalb County, a grassroots collection of county activists, said Monday the group is shopping for an attorney as the wind farm movement continues to swirl.

DeKalb County Commissioners are studying the county’s wind energy ordinance to determine appropriate setbacks for wind turbines, among other criteria, as the county is eyed for potential wind farm development.

Sonya Cloyd, a spokeswoman and leader of Concerned Citizens, said several county residents have contacted the group with worries over protection of their property rights, should a wind farm develop in the county.

Those sentiments from residents pushed the group to seek legal counsel to ensure land owner rights are protected. Resident Carrie Raver told the commissioners during her weekly discussion Monday that the group is seeking legal counsel.

“We have a lot to lose here if this wind farm situation goes through,” Cloyd said in a telephone interview later Monday. “We’re just trying to protect our rights.”

Cloyd said the group is interviewing attorneys. Once the interviews are complete, she said, the group would gather again to decide who to hire.

A legal fund is being collected through donations from residents around the county, Cloyd said. The donors have requested to remain anonymous, she said, saying some are fearful of repercussions from pro-wind-farm neighbors.

“There’s a weird dynamic going on in the county right now,” Cloyd said.

That dynamic was visible again Monday in the Commissioners Court at the courthouse, as Raver continued to press the commissioners.

Raver also has hired an attorney to help her draft a wind energy ordinance of her own that she will present to the commissioners. She continued to grill the commissioners Monday about the status of the land maps being generated by the county’s geographic information systems office. Commissioners hope the maps will show where wind turbines could be placed under the current 1,500-foot setback distance, if anywhere.

The commissioners told Raver that GIS director Brad Stump is working diligently to meet the Dec. 17 deadline they gave him.

Raver then asked why a deadline is in place at all for such an important issue. She urged the commissioners to have the maps include all the necessary information the first time rather than have Stump go back into the maps later on. Raver asked why the commissioners did not declare a windmill moratorium she suggested they institute weeks ago.

Raver closed with a warning against granting wind farm companies utility status, which she said could give them power over easements and allow them to use the power of eminent domain.