A Tennessee State Epidemiologist with the Tennessee Department of Health in a letter to a Fairfield Glade resident, said there is no current evidence that suggests exposure to industrial wind turbines is associated with any specific health outcomes.
The letter, shared by Cumberland County attorney Randal Boston during his legal report, was written to Mary Kopmeir of Fairfield Glade by Timothy Jones, MD. The letter was dated Sept. 1, 2016.
“…Some studies point to an association with annoyance, or with sleep disturbances,” the letter states.
“In most cases, the effect on sleep disturbance has not been isolated to turbines and is mitigated by appropriate siting of the turbines. We think the findings may be taken into account when designing industrial wind turbine farms and rely of the Department of Conservation and environment in that regard,” Jones states.
In a letter to Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr., local Cumberland County Health Director Mindy Doyle said she and regional director Debbie Johnson had been contacted by the Cumberland Mountain Preservation Coalition (CMPC) numerous times regarding health concerns about the proposed wind turbines.
“The department of health found no health risks associated,” Doyle’s letter states.
In spite of the letter from the department of health, Boston said he is still currently checking into ordinances the county could adopt and will report back to the county mayor who will in turn discuss any updates with county commissioners.
Dozens of residents and protesters with CMPC and Opponents of the Crab Orchard Wind Turbines, attended the Cumberland County Commission meeting Monday night after holding camp on the courthouse grounds all day, holding signs and passing out brochures in their fight against the proposed Crab Orchard Wind Farm project on Millstone Mountain.
Crab Orchard Wind is a 71-megawatt wind farm proposed on Millstone Mountain near Crab Orchard in eastern Cumberland County.
According to Apex Green Energy, the company behind the project, Crab Orchard Wind would include 20 to 23 turbines that could reach a total height of 656 feet, from ground to tip of the turbine blade.
Prior to Monday’s county commission meeting, a large group of the protesters gathered outside the courthouse, “Stop the wind farm,” they shouted as cars drove past.
Health concerns aren’t the only issues some residents and members of CMPC have regarding the proposed wind farm.
During the county’s public comment period, Craig Clark, a Cumberland County resident on Hwy. 68 said, “You need a more complete risk-benefit analysis to determine net economic impact…independent studies show an average 22 percent loss of property values within a six-mile range of industrial wind turbines. Over 21,500 parcels located within this range appraise at a value of over $1.4 billion. The reduction in value would be a $308 million loss for individual property owners – this effects me personally. A reduction of $1.3 million per year in property tax revenue affects everyone in the county…”
Clark also cited possible revenue losses in sales tax dollars from declined tourism and potential job losses.
“Bottom line, Cumberland County stands to lose over $5 million the first year and over $22 million per year for the next 19 years. That is a net loss of almost $435 million,” Clark said, citing the independent study. “This information serves notice to you that this project is a threat to our economic health as well as our safety, welfare and quality of life. Willful ignorance is no longer an option for this (county) commission…”
He urged the county commission to take action to protect the citizens from the project.
Former 9th District County Commissioner Sandra Baxter Dutcher also addressed the county commission during the public comment period.
“I’m deeply worried about where this county is going … our community is in trouble. We need you to not be blind,” Dutcher said.
She urged the commissioners to exercise their responsibility as elected officials and to research and “find out the facts.”
In July county commissioners turned down two resolutions crafted by Dutcher, a retired county attorney, that would have regulated land use in the county and publicly voiced opposition of the project.
There were no speakers in support of the project during this month or last month’s meeting; however, there have been some in the past. Many of those expressed concern about the county overshadowing property owner rights regarding land use.
Boston said he is researching ordinances the county could consider regarding the wind farm project.
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