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Wind farm issue: rights vs. harm

The Cumberland County Commissioners Meeting on July 18, 2016, was a struggle between individual property rights and our responsibility as citizens to avoid being harmful to our neighbors.

Speaking more technically: A nuisance is an interference with the right to use and enjoy real property.

A property owner doesn’t have the absolute right to use her land any way she can imagine. Such a right would be impossible because one person’s right to do whatever she wanted on her land would sometimes conflict with another person’s right to do whatever he wanted on his land. So the law of nuisance gives every property owner the same right: the right to use and enjoy his or her property reasonably, without unreasonable interference by others.

We’ll come back to that “nuisance” concept.

Yes, wind turbines were again on the agenda as 9th District Commissioner Sandra Dutcher presented two resolutions to the Board of Commissioners – ways they actually could make a difference on this issue.

The meeting had opened with another appeal from APEX and a strong response from George Chiaramonte, CMPC, that again gave attendants the truth about the dangers of the proposed APEX Wind Farm project. What followed was a lineup of residents supporting property rights – their right to do what they want with their property.

There was no mention of the rights of others to be protected from harm; there was no mention of the fact that citizens right to own property comes with responsibilities to avoid harm to others—even as doctors take an oath not to do harm.

Do these property owners think they have no responsibility to protect our communities from the researched harm of ultra sound and vibrations from the 600-plus foot proposed turbines, the dangers of acid mine drainage that can impact our water supply, the environmental & economic threat to our community?

The struggle really is that WE AS A COMMUNITY, including Crab Orchard and other outlying areas, must work together to protect our people and not allow harm; we must acknowledge that every right includes responsibilities. The right to own property comes with the responsibility to use it in a way that won’t harm others. Likewise, the right to be a commissioner comes with the responsibility of due diligence in researching issues prior to a vote.

The two potential resolutions (Options) offered by 9th District Commissioner Sandra Dutcher were turned down by a majority of our commissioners.

My final questions?

Are the involved land owners and commissioners willing to pay for resulting damages to health and well-being?

Or do they expect others to pay the price of their refusal to do their homework, to consider potential harm to others and to work together as a community to find a solution?

How sad if the answer to the latter question is, “Yes.” That was the answer given by our elected commissioners Monday evening.

HOW SAD FOR OUR COMMUNITY!