Howard County council considers wind farm abatements; Council considers closed-door session on agreement with E.ON
Opponents of the Wildcat Wind Farm in eastern Howard County once again showed they aren’t ready to let the issue of wind development die down.
Community members voiced their desire for the Howard County Council to examine how to back out of its abatement agreement with E.ON Climate & Renewables, which has plans to construct wind turbines in eastern Howard County in phases II and III of the Wildcat Wind Farm.
While council members offered no promises to change the county’s economic development agreement with E.ON, Councilman Dave Stout urged other members to consider discussing what options, if any, they have in an executive session. Executive sessions are not open to the public.
Stout sympathized with the room filled with residents – many from eastern Howard County – and offered some hope that council members will look at what options they have to change the abatement agreement with E.ON.
No date has been scheduled for a session and details of what council members would be able to discuss during the session were not specified.
“I feel like it’s our duty to look from the top to the bottom to the side to see if there’s anything else we can do,” Stout said. “I think we owe the people our time and we need to do that. We may not learn one thing or do anything that way, whether it’s the abatement or the economic development plan.”
Making any changes to the abatement agreement might be an uphill battle, however.
As community members attempted to pry any possible solutions from the council during more than two hours of public comment, County Attorney Larry Murrell said he stood by his earlier opinion that nothing can be done to opt out of the abatement agreement at this point in time.
“My opinion has been that the abatement was properly granted,” he said. “E.ON is not at fault on the abatement and they can’t be in default until after they do the project and don’t do the project consistent with what they promised in the abatement. I know of no legal basis that you could set aside the abatement.”
For more than a year, community members have occupied county council and commissioner meetings asking for changes to the wind ordinance and encouraging them to opt out of the economic development agreement with E.ON.
Residents and community members have continually expressed that wind turbines have negative effects, citing safety and health concerns and the impact on property values.
“It’s very sad to say that nobody really took into consideration all of the residents in eastern Howard County and what our quality of life is,” Greentown resident Paula Hummer said. “It feels like we just don’t matter, as long as money can be made out there.”
Meanwhile, opponents of wind farm development continue to make their voices heard, including Greentown resident Ronnie Newhouse, who had signed a lease agreement with E.ON to have turbines put on his property.
After researching the subject and receiving more input from others who live near turbines, Newhouse said his decision to sign the lease was ill advised.
“I’ve asked E.ON to get out, but they haven’t given a clear answer [in response],” he said. “I made a mistake. I’m just here to see what I can do to change something and to let you gentlemen know that there are a lot of landowners that signed the lease thinking that they were helping the county and the tax base and the school systems. It didn’t come the way that we thought it would, that’s for sure.”
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