OGLETOWN – The deadline arrived Monday for Ogle Township residents to submit data backing their wind turbine concerns to township officials.
With that deadline came a 5-inch stack of documents about a list of wind farm worries, including potential impacts on property values, habitats and safety, township supervisors Chairman Harvey Weyandt Jr. said.
“I’d say I’ve got enough reading material to last me three or four months of my free time,” Weyandt said Monday. “But from what I gather so far, the (low-frequency) sound the turbines give off and property values seem like the the biggest concerns from the residents I’ve talked to the last few days.”
The issue was sparked by an Illinois-based company’s decision to study Shaffer Mountain wind speeds, a move that could pave the way for a wind farm in Ogle and Shade townships.
A growing number of Ogle landowners have been attending recent meetings to oppose the idea, urging supervisors to modify their existing windmill ordinance and increase setbacks.
That prompted township officials to ask them to list their concerns in writing and back them up with facts.
Laura Jackson of Save Our Allegheny Ridges was among a half dozen people who submitted information. She cited court cases and studies conducted in wind farm communities to counter Invenergy’s statement in March that property values weren’t impacted long-term by turbines.
But Jackson and township resident Kim Moore said their worry is that “infrasound” vibrations – ones that cannot be heard but felt – could cause health issues like dizziness and chest pressure to those nearby.
Moore cited the turbines’ potential impact on nature, too.
Shaffer Mountain serves as a flight path for eastern golden eagles, rare birds whose regular presence locally drew 4,000 visitors last year, she said.
She cited studies that showed the birds have flown into the spinning blades or changed their migratory patterns to avoid wind farms altogether.
“We’ve earned a reputation as a place to visit to see those eagles,” Moore said.
Weyandt said township officials plan to take time to read and research the findings that residents submit.
“We’ll digest this information and we’ll give it to our solicitor so he can look at it, too. It is going to take some time,” he said, “but we want to do it right.”
“If we’re going to change our ordinance, let’s make sure it’s based on an informed decision.”
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