The gallery of the old circuit courtroom on the second floor of the Henry County Courthouse was standing room only Thursday as citizens of Henry County and beyond shared their thoughts regarding the local “wind farm” ordinance.
The Henry County Commissioners asked local zoning administrator Darrin Jacobs to create a committee to review the wind energy conversion system (WECS) ordinance and Thursday was that committee’s second meeting.
By design, the meeting ran from 6 to 9 p.m. with those “for” and those “against” given 90 minutes apiece. Each person who signed up to address the committee was allowed a maximum of three minutes to present their thoughts and 29 people from each side of the issue spoke.
Those who spoke against the development of wind farms in Henry County cited many reasons for their opposition including noise, vibration, loss of property value near the turbines, shadow flicker and a variety of health concerns. Nearly all asked the committee to consider increasing setback requirements so the nearly 50-story tall structures are as far away from nearby properties as possible. Some asked that the turbines be banned entirely.
“Our future is on the line. Our full attention is required. It is my hope that those in charge of rules for our county are not distracted by those who are waving around shiny, short-term dollar signs. Wind turbine setbacks must be increased in this county to a minimum of 2,640 feet, which is a half a mile. The reason is simple: Our safety is not for sale,” Vernon Cherrett said in part.
“Tonight I just want to share some potential health concerns from the infrasound from the wind turbines,” Lori Norris said. “Although inaudible to the human ear, the infrasound created from wind turbines is causing some people close to the turbines to have health issues. … One of the primary effects is sleep disturbance. Over time, a human being with sleep disturbance can develop high blood pressure, anxiety, increased stress hormones, emotional upset, lower immune system, poor attention span and decreased ability to learn and perform daily duties of living.”
“In the case of these proposed massive industrial wind turbines, it is not unreasonable for existing property owners to want to have protecting existing setbacks of at least 2,640 feet from their property line. It is not unreasonable for residents to want limits set on the heights of these industrial machines. We limit the height of privacy fences, why would we not limit the height of towers that are hundreds of feet tall. It is not unreasonable for neighbors to want to monitor and limit the noise emanating from these machines when other industrial developments have restrictions on noise output,” Franki Zile said in part.
Those in favor of wind farm development spoke primarily about the economic benefits the turbines will provide local landowners and taxing units and about the right to do with their property as they wish.
“When I bought my land, I bought it to produce things so that they could be harvested whether that be crops, animals or the wind. Anything that can be produced for people to consume is what land is purchased for and that’s what we’re doing. We’re harvesting a resource. We’re harvesting the wind. It would be no different than if someone wanted to object to the type of livestock that I raised on my property … or if they objected to the crop I planted. … There are people who want these. There people who have no problem with the existing setbacks,” Tony Saunders said in part.
“This discussion needs to be based on facts and not fear. I believe that wind energy will make our farm stronger. I believe this wind farm will be good for the entire county. I think not only the lease owners will have the benefit, I believe there will be millions in tax revenue for the county that we need to help fix our roads and help school funding. I also believe that this will provide additional jobs for economic development. Construction jobs. Support service jobs. I also don’t believe this wind ordinance should be used as a tool to stop economic development in our county,” Kade Koger said in part.
“Health and safety issues are always brought up when you talk about wind turbines. I’ve spoken to and received letters from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Benton County, Randolph County, White County, Tipton County, Madison County, that contradict such health and safety issues. All the previously mentioned counties and state agencies have not had any health and safety related issues reported to their respective departments,” Craig Custer said in part.
The WECS Review Committee adjourned almost immediately following the last speaker of the evening. The group is expected to discuss the testimony heard when it next meets at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 in the old circuit courtroom. That meeting is open to the public, but comments from the audience will not likely be on the agenda, according to Jacobs.
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