In all my years here in Fairfield Glade, I don’t know if I have ever seen the community alive and bustling as I did last Wednesday evening.
Opinions on the proposed Crab Orchard Wind project that may put 23 Turbines high atop the Cumberland Mountain Ridge are like belly buttons – everyone’s got one.
And, by the looks of things at the Fairfield Community Club Center on Stonehenge Drive on Wednesday, these opinions became even stronger and when Apex Clean Energy announced several weeks ago that it would be holding public forums at the FGCC on June 1 and 2 (and also in Crab Orchard), Glade residents evidently circled that on their calendars.
As Apex representatives pulled in and set up shop in one of the large meeting rooms in the beautiful CC, they were greeted by approximately 30-40 residents with picket signs and buttons saying “Say NO to Turbines”.
As traffic drove up and down Stonehenge Dr., cars would honk and give a thumbs up to their fellow residents.
But as active as things were outside, they were even more energized inside.
One reason for this was the fact that the Save the Mountain Coalition formed by Glade residents, had their own conference meeting room just down the hallway from Apex.
Why, there were even three officers of the Fairfield Glade Public Safety Department roaming the entrance, hallways and meeting rooms to make sure no uncomfortable situations arose.
In my view, the only ones uncomfortable were the Apex representatives who tirelessly and professionally answered questions and tried their best to keep calm in the midst of storm they probably did not expect.
At one point, I stopped, listened and watched as a tiny Glade woman, a thick binder of information and research in hand, vigoursly debated one Apex rep – pouncing on the information he was giving like an ankle-eating Terrier. The lady even called into question if Apex was “misleading” Fairfield Glade folks.
“You are 100 percent wrong and you know it,” she said. “You are all trying to pull the wool over our eyes.”
Apex reps did their best to answer questions and sell their proposed project to the hundreds of folks that came through their doors.
There were cookies and coffee to go along with the many placards. Yet, the refreshments went down a lot easier than many of the placards that depicted “Before and After” photos of various locations both in Fairfield Glade and Crab Orchard.
The “After” pics had Turbines super-imposed by a consulting company, according to an Apex rep. And Apex noted that they “went above and beyond” by showing various locations, the tallest turbines available, and using up to 30 turbines in the pictures instead of the planned 23.
“Those aren’t even representative,” barked the Glade woman.
Indeed, that was the view of most people with whom I struck up conversations – often times without identifying myself. I was taken back by the tone of most.
One resident said, “The view I will have will be even worse than I thought.”
Another resident, Bruce Owens, simply offered, “ I don’t want it,” he said of the Wind Project. “I’ve seen too many when I was in Indiana. And those were on open farmland with not many people around. Not like this.”
Yet, it was interesting to note that, well before the 8 P.M. finishing time, the Apex meeting room had only a few people present while the Coalition’s room became jam-packed to voice their concerns and listen to the presentations.
The Apex pictures did not exactly paint a thousand words because they did not give the exact perspective from our neighborhoods, residents complained. One thing I quickly noticed was that there were NO pictures of what it would look like from Dorchester, Druid, Stonehenge and Heatherhurst golf courses.
So I went and took a photo from the 4th hole at Stonehenge.
Then I went to 28 Hickory Ridge Lane, one of their locations for a Before/After photo. It seemed disingenuous to me that, not only was their NO such address of 28 Hickory Ridge Lane – likely a simple mistake. But, when I matched up the picture with an exact spot – the picture was taken from afar. Going up just a few houses would have afforded a more realistic view of what the turbines would look like from most homes.
What’s more, Hickory Ridge Lane is the northern-most street (if my geography is correct) in the Glade. Why choose that spot? All along Catoosa Blvd. there are streets like Vista Lane and the like where Apex could have snapped pics.
They did provide a Before/After view of the Wind Farm from the Wildwood Stables. When I looked at the photos – which is not the same as standing at the locations in person! – I thought to myself, “Does Apex think this is helping their cause?”
Meanwhile, the Coalition was presenting their case which of course includes the damage to this retirement and resort community of Fairfield Glade – but also the damage to the mountains sure to be done by construction and implementation of the Turbines.
The Coalition pointed out how industrial wind factories are destructive to communities and local environments, challenging that fragile ecosystems are destroyed – including countless birds and bats – as well as disrupted animal habitats and wildlife.
Residents were presented documented facts regarding noise and vibrations that can cause health problems, including sleep problems, headaches and nervous disorders to Glade and Crab Orchard folks.
Aslo, the Coalition discussed how it may hurt home values, real estate prices, tourism and … what about the health and welfare of those who attend Crab Orchard schools?
When hearty government subsidies for Wind Energy companies come to a halt, how will it remain profitable – even if it is reliable in creating electricity in the first place? What happens when the leases expire and perhaps the Turbines grind to a halt? Who will dismantle them and take them away?
What if, as one resident asked, one of them catches or causes a fire? “Bye-Bye Mountains” another resident answered.
Again, nothing against so-called Green Energy in the right situation; in the right place.
But, would any predicted benefits of the project offset the potential damages, negatives and pitfalls to this community?
The longer this thing plays out, the clearer the answer becomes.
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