May 20, 2013

Marshall County first to ban wind farms

By: Mark Peterson - May 20, 2013 -

It’s believed that Marshall County today became the first county in Indiana to ban commercial wind farms within its borders.

“It’s just our wildest dreams realized,” said Marabeth Levett, a supporter of the ban. “Marshall County is very densely populated compared to Benton, and White County where they’re seem to be living fairly well with them; but in Marshall County, farms are right next to homes.”

The decision on the part of the Marshall County Board of Commissioners was unanimous. The passage of the ban drew a standing ovation from the crowd, and came some two years after a Florida based company proposed building up to 70-wind turbines in southern Marshall and Northern Fulton Counties.

“It’s been two years of learning about them (turbines) and the effects they have on people and animals,” said Marabeth Levett. “We are overwhelmed, we’re just so pleased, so excited we worked so hard for this.”

“Just in general, our population density is too high. We just decided that, you know, it’s too much,” said Marshall County Commissioner Deb Griewank.

While two farmers said that the ban denies landowners the right to do what they wish with their private property, both sides claimed to be standing on the highest moral ground.

“Our prime focus has been protection of our farm land, we don’t get any more you know, we’ve got the 31 bypass coming through,” said ban supporter Dennis Thornton. “And 20 years, that’s the total life span of a wind turbine, that’s what’s forecast so in 25 years we’ve got a junkyard sitting out there and who pays for the clean-up?”

Marshall County’s new ‘not in my backyard’ policy could also work to keep turbines out of Fulton County, where there’s a much more positive spin on things. “I think Fulton County there was mostly positive feedback for this kind of project, at least initially,” said Terry Lee, Executive Director of the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation.

The original wind farm plan called for about 60 percent of the turbines to be placed in southern Marshall County with 40 percent to be located in northern Fulton County.

“So they (Marshall County officials) made decisions they think is best for them, again, does it affect our project? Yes,” said Lee. “So from that standpoint it probably affects development of wind in Fulton County where there have been mostly positive impact, you know in a negative way, so from that standpoint it was regrettable, it was a large project.”

NextEra Energy based in Florida originally proposed making a $180 million investment, putting up to 70 turbines in the area.

The Marshall County ban does not apply to small wind turbines that may typically be used by individual homeowners or small businesses. The new maximum turbine height was capped at 140 feet, compared to the 300 foot units originally proposed for the commercial wind farm.

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