MUNCIE – Wind farm opponents are applauding action taken Thursday by Tom Green, chairman of the city-county plan commission.
On behalf of the commission’s wind farm committee, Green urged county officials to study the impact of existing Indiana wind farms for at least two years before deciding how to regulate them in Delaware County.
“We are very pleased,” said Kathy Gresh, a hospital office worker and one of the coordinators of a group opposed to a proposed E.ON Climate & Renewables wind farm in eastern Delaware County and western Randolph County. “That’s what we asked to start with – slow down, get the facts, check into everything. I think they’re going to do that now. We feel like we have been listened to. We didn’t expect this, but we’re very pleased.”
“Among the items to be considered is the impact of such developments on property values,” Green wrote in an email to Marta Moody, director of the plan commission. “A two- to three-year time frame will give us a chance to actually see how property values have been affected in areas around existing installations and watch the values in recently developed and soon-to-be developed areas within Indiana.”
Besides Green, the wind farm committee includes Moody, County Commissioner Larry Bledsoe and county extension educator Michael O’Donnell.
Green also says the committee should probably be expanded. The committee had spent months drafting wind farm regulations that were met with opposition from residents of the Albany, Selma and Desoto areas. The committee had recommended a 1,320-foot setback between wind turbines and residences. Opponents supported a two-mile setback.
The plan commission is scheduled to act on Green’s request at its June 6 meeting. A special commission meeting to vote on proposed wind farm regulations on July 3 has been canceled.
“The bad thing about this is it’s creating so much rift between farmers and their neighbors, and that’s a bad thing,” said wind farm opponent Roger Shaffer.
A former longtime employee of American Electric Power, Shaffer said he is not opposed to wind farms, except when they are built in areas that are too heavily populated.
Besides impact on residential property values, neighbors’ concerns include noise and shadow flicker, and “the list goes on,” Green reported.
He wrote, “I think we can all agree that, given the wrong set of guidelines, (wind farms) can cause health issues for some people. I believe that no one in the wind energy business disregards these issues, but I also believe that very few people in the general public truly understand these issues.”
Green added: “I have noted many changes in policies around the country regarding this issue; some of those changes are a complete reversal of existing policy. Let us not make the same mistakes or reactions in providing guidance for our community.”
E.ON declined comment. Spokesman Matt Tulis said, “It’s our company policy not to discuss project specifics at this stage of development.”
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