Leesburg Mayor Ed Mackey and residents of Cherokee County came to the Cherokee County Commission meeting Monday night to protest the proposed wind project on Lookout Mountain.
“There’s too many red flags,” Mackey said. “I, for one, would like to keep the mountain just as it is.”
He said he began speaking out against the project when it was proposed to put a turbine in Cherokee Rock Village. That plan has since been scrapped, but the larger project has continued to move forward.
Mackey said the area of the proposed wind project is one of the most beautiful areas in the entire state. He said he believes the turbines would be built on the backs of the taxpayers and worried what would happen if they began to rust and if the company chose to leave them.
“Why should we have them in the first place?” Mackey said. “I ask the commission to take your opinion, take what you can get out of it and deny the acquisition of a right of way across county property.”
Kenneth Henry lives on County Road 1 on the mountain and said he is concerned for environmental, economical and aesthetic reasons about the project. He has gotten a petition with 41 signatures of residents in the area to asking Cherokee County to deny Pioneer Green Energy use of county land for transmission lines.
He is worried about the shadow effect of the spinning blades, the noise, the red strobe lights required by the Federal Aviation Administration and the effect on the flying wildlife like eagles, bats and other animals.
“It’s a natural environment, it’s beautiful,” Henry said. “I think it’s a terrible thing for the whole area.”
Several commissioners said they would take a more deliberate and patient approach to the situation. District I Commissioner Randy Jones said that while most everyone present tonight was against the project, he still wants to wait to get the pros as well as the cons before any decision is made.
District III Commissioner Marcie Foster said that things are very back and forth right now between the sides for and against the project. She said there is still a lot of information that needs to be compiled and sorted through before any decisions are made.
“If we need to, we will hold a public forum on this,” Foster said. “This (decision) will not happen under the table.”
Pioneer Green Energy is also planning a project on Lookout Mountain in Etowah County. They will be holding two open forums for the public to discuss their plans with them in both counties on Saturday, April 13.
The first will be at Etowah County Courthouse from 9 a.m. to noon and the second will be at the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.