NEW CASTLE – The Henry County Economic Development Corporation has decided not to pursue locating future wind farms in the county.
In an open letter Corey Murphy, president of the Henry County Economic Development Corp., said the agency hopes that two wind farms that have received zoning and tax abatement approvals will be developed.
Murphy expressed concern that not welcoming investment would hurt the county’s reputation in the marketplace, but there is a lack of community support for wind farm development.
“Wind farms represent a growth opportunity for Henry County,” he wrote. “The main benefits are: a substantial tax base, additional diversified revenue for local farm families, and road improvements.
“Many members of our community believe the risks of wind farms outweigh the benefits,” Murphy continued. “The main risks shared by community members are: a visual change to the landscape, declining property values and unknown health effects.”
Murphy currently serves on a committee reviewing the Henry County wind ordinance and has reviewed hundreds of documents. That committee is reviewing the setback distance between wind turbine placements and dwellings.
The current ordinance requires a 1,500-foot setback from a residence and 1,000 feet from a business.
“Over the recent weeks, I have closely listened to the community and it is clear there is not a consensus on the issue of wind farms in Henry County,” he said. “The path to achieve compromise could be damaging to our county’s reputation in the business marketplace. A flickering ‘Open for Business’ sign is not helpful but rather detrimental to our reputation.”
Murphy said it’s not the role of the EDC to singlehandedly pursue development projects without significant community support.
Earlier this year, Texas-based Calpine Corp. sought to begin developing the Big Blue River Wind Farm in northwestern Henry County.