In response to the proposed Black Oak Wind Farm in Enfield introducing plans that include one wind turbine site in Newfield, the Newfield Town Council will vote at its next meeting on whether or not to place a 90-day moratorium on wind energy development in the town.
Proponents of the wind farm say that the renewable energy represents progress and a step away from reliance on fossil fuels, but many Newfield and Enfield residents argue that the turbines would make too much noise and would be located too close to residences.
Newfield’s last town council meeting, held March 24, began with a public hearing on the matter. Jeff Hart, Newfield Town Supervisor, estimated that about 75 percent of the people present were in favor of the moratorium, designed to give the board more time to look into and possibly change some of its local laws around wind energy.
A group of Enfield residents have been vocal in their opposition to the wind farm; according to Karen Miller Kenerson, Newfield Town Clerk, 10 of the 26 people in attendance at the Newfield meeting spoke publicly to the board. Of those 10, four were from Newfield and six were from Enfield.
Of those four who are Newfield residents, two spoke in favor of the wind farm and two wanted the moratorium. One proponent of Black Oak is Kathy Straight, who along with her husband John Straight owns the land where the farm would place its Newfield turbine.
The Straights are off the grid; they have always used a generator to power their home because they deem the cost of running electricity to their house too high (living the farthest out, they would have had to pay the most to install a new line, Kathy Straight explained).
According to the Black Oak website, General Electric recommends a setback of just under 1000 feet to a house, and that is what Black Oak proposes for its turbines. “Most houses are much further than that from any turbine, averaging 1,500 feet or more,” the website states.
Straight said she doesn’t believe she will even notice the turbine on her 198 acres of land, standing in the distance off of Cayutaville Road. “I’Il guarantee you’re not able to see it very easily, the trees have grown up so tall,” she said.
She said she and her husband were asked to sign a contract allowing Black Oak to use a portion of their land. They will be compensated, she said, though she said she couldn’t recall how much. “You get paid a certain percentage of what it generates, or whatever they sell,” she said. “My guess is it’s not real high.”
On the other side of the issue is Newfield resident Kim Wojtanik, whose 13 acres of land sits adjacent to the Straight property. “I am all for the moratorium,” she said. “I think that we need to look at the law that’s in place try to figure out the right wording for what we need.”
She said that even though the turbine won’t be on her property, she expects she will be able to see it out her window. “I’m going to be impacted the most,” she said. She’s concerned about how far back from her property line and home the turbine will be, and worries about the turbine breaking and pieces falling to the ground, or ice chunks flying off in the winter.
“I would prefer not to have it in my back yard,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of research on my own, and I’m not convinced that it is safe.” Even if the town changed its regulations, she doubts she would be able to get behind the project, though she says it’s not her place to “tell people where things need to go.”
“I just don’t know if wind power is right for this area.” It’s just too residential, Wojtanik said. She foresees the noise of the windmill also being an issue, and she is not persuaded by Black Oak’s promise to give $500 of its profit per year to all neighbors who sign a “Good Neighbor” agreement. “To me, honestly, the money wouldn’t be worth it,” she said. “It’s a small amount of money for me to have to be disrupted for the rest of my life.”
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