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Wind farm neighbors concerned over property values; Henry County group forms to oppose project

NEW CASTLE – Several hundred Henry County residents gathered in opposition to a proposed wind farm near Middletown because of a concern over lower property values.

Residents met Wednesday in the Smith Building at Memorial Park to gather information about the Big Blue River Wind Farm and learn about efforts to stop the project.

Texas-based Calpine Corp. is proposing to construct up to 100 turbines in northwestern Henry County. The estimated investment is between $300 million and $350 million.

A request filed with the Henry County Planning Commission for the placement of a 328-foot meteorological tower for the purpose of gathering wind speed and directional data has been withdrawn indefinitely.

Steve Dellinger said he could have three or four turbines surrounding his home in the future.

“I think it sucks,” he said of the project. “I don’t want to look at the behemoths for the rest of my life, because they’re going to be there.

“It’s not like crops that change every year,” Dellinger said. “Once they go up you can’t say I’ve changed my mind. For the rest of my life, I’m going to get up every morning and stare at these suckers.”

Dellinger said his main concern was the loss of the value of his property.

“I moved here because it was peaceful, quiet, and you could see forever,” he said. “The things I’m accustomed to will no longer exist.”

Dellinger said he is not opposed to wind power, but believes they should be constructed in non-populated areas.

“I don’t see a lot of benefits,” he said. “I don’t believe people will be beating on my door to buy my house once these things go up. They’re awesome to look at for a minute or two.”

Most of the people in attendance voiced concerns about the impact of the wind farm on property values and health concerns, such as noise and shadow flicker from the turbine blades.

Danny Bennett was looking at a map of potential turbine sites – five of which could surround his property.

“I bought the property nine years ago to be in a quiet area with beautiful farm land,” he said. “We plan to retire there and we’ve put $100,000 into the house. Our value is going to drop.

“No one will want to buy the house and my retirement will be impacted,” Bennett said.

Bennett said he has heard that some of the surrounding farmers have signed leases.

He visited the wind farm in Randolph County and talked to people living close to the wind turbines.

“We stopped at six farm houses,” Bennett said. “Not one good thing was said about them. One person said they have to close their shades in the morning and evening because of the flicker.”

Bennett said the elected Henry County commissioners won’t stand up for the rights of the people; that’s why three wind farm projects are considering Henry County.

Denver Dawson said wind turbines could potentially be located on both sides of his home.

“I’m not too crazy about it,” he said, “because I think I will lose my home value.

“We’ve lived here for 13 years,” Dawson said. “We bought a place that needed a lot of work and done nothing but pour money into it. I don’t want to see it lose the value.”

He said surrounding property owners are not opposed to the project.

Expecting turbines to be close to her home, Cheryl McCambridge attended the meeting to get more information on the wind farm.

“My concern is the number of turbines they’re proposing,” she said. “I’m concerned about property values and health risks.”

McCambridge said she’s somewhat surprised that three wind farms are being proposed for the county.

“Usually things don’t change a lot in Henry County, and this is quite a change,” she said. “I just recently found out where the turbines are going, so I’m surprised elected officials would support it so early.”

James McShurley said a wind farm won’t be constructed near gated communities in Carmel and Zionsville because the people have the money to stop a project.

“This will create an economic dead zone,” he said. “There will be no new homes built, less remodeling and a lowering of property values.”

McShurly said a corporate citizen doesn’t divide a community and trample on the heritage.

“We’re not a bunch of rubes as they think,” he said. “We’re farmers and business owners. What good is any money if the community is not fit to live in.”