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Public forum held in Shiawassee Co. to consider wind turbine farm

As many as 60 wind turbines could soon be towering over rural Shiawassee County. Wednesday night people who live in or near the new proposed wind farm development got their first chance to learn more and speak out.

If approved it would span across much of the northwestern corner of the county. Townships in the zone include Fairfield, Rush, Middlebury, and Owosso Charter Township.

Hundreds of people filled a banquet hall in Shaiwassee county Wednesday night.

“We wanted the opportunity for residents to learn more about not only the project from the standpoint of the developer but also from the standpoint of those who are opposing the project,” said Jeff Deason, president of the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce.

A representative from Apex, the developer of the wind turbines, explained their argument. They said the 60 turbine wind farm is first of all safe and pollution free energy. It will also provide up to 8 full time jobs, 200 temporary jobs for construction, and millions of dollars in tax revenue.

On the other side an activist against wind-energy spoke. He said wind turbines create noise pollution, they decrease property values, and are unsightly.

Questions from the crowd were read aloud – and answered by the two sides. One man we talked to says the public forum wasn’t neutral enough.

“Public people who have public office who could’ve done a good job in saying what happened in their town, I would’ve been very interested in hearing from them. But the way it’s set up now it’s all about winners and losers,” said Phil Hathaway from Owosso.

Some people still wanted more information.

“The longevity of the project and the actual transfer of the ownership of the project is one of my concerns,” said Patty Whitlock from Bennington Township.

“I haven’t learned enough to make a decision pro or con, but I think the most factual information presented tonight leads me to be pro,” said Bill Spike from New Haven Township.

Others we spoke to have already made up their minds.

“We like the rural life and we’d just as soon not look at big towers,” said Nancy Morley from Owosso.

“I think it’s a good thing for our community and I think it’s a good thing for energy use,” said Scott Miller from Fairfield Township.

If the wind turbine project gets the go-ahead Apex has a goal to start construction sometime in 2019.