Cumberland County commissioners postponed voting on a resolution opposing the development of private land on Millstone Mountain in Crab Orchard for a wind farm during Monday night’s county commission meeting.
The resolution was not on the agenda, but 9th District Commissioner Sandra Baxter Dutcher sought to waive the rules of the county commission and have the proposed resolution added to the agenda for a vote.
According to the rules an item is to be submitted seven days prior to the county commission meeting in order for it to appear on the agenda, allowing commissioners time to review the material and consider it before voting.
Nearly 100 supporters attended the meeting and packed the large meeting room on the third floor of the Cumberland County Courthouse.
Many of the supporters wore red, white and blue shirts adorned with stickers of a red circle and line across the picture of a wind turbine.
During the public comment period of the meeting several people spoke against the proposed Apex Clean Energy wind farm.
George Chiaramonte of Fairfield Glade handed out maps with images of the turbines on the mountains to commissioners.
Chiaramonte said in addition to ruining the mountain views he urged the county commission to consider negative health effects associated with turbines being approximately two miles from Crab Orchard and Pine View elementary schools “could be a dangerous thing.”
Chiaramonte said, “The (turbines) can’t produce enough electricity to pay for themselves. We will keep fighting this until we win.”
Jim Martin a resident of Millstone Mountain, said the turbines would be hundreds of feet above the landscape day and night.
“I don’t want to see them. We’re talking about two or three decades … the county (commission) is being quiet about it. Your being quiet about this speaks volumes,” Martin said.
He went on to suggest the county commissioners may have been taking money under the table and compared them to women who sell their bodies, using a vulgar word, and was ruled out of order by Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. Cumberland County Sheriff Casey Cox approached Martin to escort him from the meeting, but the man stopped and returned to his spot in the back of the room.
Jean Cheely of Lantana Rd. handed out maps and urged commissioners to consider the environmental impact the wind farm could have on 15 different streams in the immediate area with acid water run off going into those streams.
“The environmental impact is significant and is equal to mountain top removal. The area needs to be protected,” Cheely said.
Pamala Hennis of Fairfield Glade urged commissioners to consider veterans who suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
“We’ve already been to the VA and we will have to move if this goes forward. There are a lot of Vietnam Vets in the Glade. We spent three years finding this place … I urge you not to support this. Consider the veterans. The blasting for this will be like rockets and bombs going off,” Hennis said.
After introducing resolution 06-2016-11, opposing the wind farm and joining the city of Crossville, and numerous state and federal leaders, Dutcher made a motion to waive the timeliness and waive the rules and add the resolution to the agenda.
Terry Carter, 6th District commissioner, supported the motion.
Harry Sabine, 1st District commissioner, said, “I normally oppose waiving the rules and adding an item to the agenda. This has been discussed for months. I will vote no to add it tonight. It could have been added last Friday or the week before. That was not done. I’m opposed adding it to the agenda.”
Carey reminded commissioners it requires a 2/3 majority to add something to the agenda.
“That requires 12 votes,” Carey said.
Voting in favor of adding the resolution to the agenda were commissioners Rebecca Stone, 3rd District; Carter; Elbert Farley, 7th District; Dutcher; and Woody Geisler, 9th District commissioner.
Voting against adding the item were commissioners Sabine and Tracey Scarbrough, 1st District; Tom Isham, 2nd District; Dave Hassler, 3rd District; Allen Foster and David Gibson, 4th District; Terry Lowe and Jack Davis, 5th District; Wendell Wilson, 6th District; Roy Turner, 7th District; and Sonya Rimmer, 8th District.
The motion failed in an 11-5 vote against.
Carey said, “It will not be added to tonight’s meeting.”
He said it can be added before next month’s meeting and commissioners could then vote on the resolution opposing the wind farm.
If the resolution is approved it would voice the county’s opposition to the project but would do little, if anything, to stop the project as there are no land zoning regulations in Cumberland County and the land that will host the wind farm is privately owned and is secured by a private contract between the land owners and Apex.
Commissioners Nancy Hyder, 2nd District; and Tim Claflin, 8th District; did not attend the meeting.
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