Valerie Malicki sat with her hands clasped, tears streaming down her eyes, which she closed during a Greenwich Township trustee meeting Tuesday.
Earlier in the tense meeting, she shouted as she frantically rummaged through two piles of material she’d gathered about wind farms – and what she felt were their negative effects.
The trustees had asked the crowd of about 40 to keep their comments to five minutes, due to the amount of people in attendance. They were there to speak out against Greenwich Windpark LLC’s application to construct a windpark that would cover about 4,650 acres of privately leased land. It would include 25 wind turbines with a total generating capacity of up to 60 megawatts of electricity.
The project would include a 34.5 kilovolt electric collection line system and a new 69 kilovolt interconnection switching substation to connect the project to the electric grid.
If approved, construction would begin in mid-2015 and the windpark would be in operation in late 2015.
Malicki and others said the noise emitted from the turbines could disrupt sleep and have a detrimental affect on the health of humans and animals.
“It’s destructive,” a highly emotional Malicki told the trustees. “I don’t care if it’s quiet, I don’t care! It destroys.”
Malicki said one may not hear the noise, but it’s still emitted and it’s destructive.
Kevin Ledet, of rural Greenwich, cited a study of industrial wind turbines in Northern Maine that found they can cause sleep disturbances that result in physical and mental health issues in humans living as far away as 4,500 feet. The study was published in “Noise and Health.” It was written and conducted by three doctors from Maine, Canada and the United Kingdom.
“It didn’t matter how many turbines they were near, or how people felt about the turbines before they went out, they still exhibited these symptoms,” chief researcher Dr. Michael Nissenbaum of the Northern Maine Medical Center said in published reports.
Malicki said local children would live near the windpark if it becomes a reality.
“They’re all within our school – our school,” Malicki said. “Our kids aren’t going to be able to concentrate. I’m not living here if these things come.
“I’m riled up.”
Malicki compared herself to a “mama bear” who’s trying to protect her family.
“We’ve been completely lied to,” she said.
Despite the trustees’ request to keep comments to five minutes, she continued to speak.
Malicki, who came with a sign protesting the proposed park, spoke for so long at one point, that one of the trustees threatened to ask her to leave if she didn’t stop.
“We’re really not the enemy here,” commissioner Joe Hintz told Malicki, who spoke over him as well as state Rep. Terry Boose (R-Norwalk Township), appearing to try their patience.
Trustee David Seidel said he didn’t know that Malicki and the crowd were coming to the meeting until the last minute. He added as far as he knew, nobody from Greenwich Windpark LLC was invited to the meeting, which was a regular trustee meeting.
The trustees, the Huron County Commissioners and Boose all tried to send the same message to Malicki and others: The windpark is not their proposed project, they’re not against those opposed to the project and it’s out of their control. Instead, it’s in the hands of The Ohio Power Siting Board. It will review the complete record and other documentation in the case docket.
The board was created on Nov. 15, 1981 by amended Substitute House Bill 694 as a separate entity within the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).
During the meeting, Boose said PUCO is charged with regulating utilities in Ohio and the fate of the project rests in PUCO’s hands.
“No one in this room has the authority to decide whether it’s going in or not going in,” Boose said.
Malicki pressed Boose to answer whether he could contact PUCO officials. An exasperated Boose said “yes.”
At least one public meeting at South Central High School took place recently for residents to offer testimony for or against the project. But only trustee Walter Leber and Ashland resident Harold Zager, whose wife owns land in Greenwich Township, spoke. Leber said he doesn’t want to give the impression that he’s against the project, but if it’s done, he wants to see it done right.
Zager noted Huron County’s high unemployment rate and said a project such as this can help jump-start the area economy.
Matt Butler, the board’s public outreach manager, said the body will review the complete record and other documents in the docket and make a decision no earlier than August.
Boose said he will return to Columbus with several questions, based on comments made during Tuesday’s meeting. He will try to determine if any laws exist regulating noise of wind turbines. He also said he will investigate whether there are any falsifications in Greenwich Windpark LLC’s report.
“I need to get that to the siting board ASAP,” Boose said.
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