November 10, 2017

Fulton wind farm meeting hears health concerns and job creation

By Niko Burton, WSBT 22 Reporter |

Hundreds of people gathered at the Fulton Community Center Thursday.

County commissioners are considering rezoning land for a wind turbine farm.

Supporters say construction of the turbines would create sustainable jobs and tax breaks for everyone. Others fear their health will be affected and so will their views in the county.

Commissioners want to get all concerns out on the table. The meeting Thursday allowed people to express their opinions on this rather tall issue.

Right now, there are rules on how tall the turbines can be and how far away they must be from homes, but that is still too close for comfort for some people.

It was a full house at the Fulton Community Center. People came out with signs and buttons to voice their opinions. Some say the commissioners are making a decision that could have a negative impact throughout the county.

“These three commissioners essentially are deciding the fate of an entire county,” said a preschool teacher and Fulton resident.

People who don’t want the turbines say there are studies that show they can cause headaches and other health side effects. They also say they’re just too close.

“Workers should not linger within 1,640 feet of these towers, but they want to put my home 1,200 feet from it. That’s not OK. My children live outside my home and they can’t play in their yard if they put them that close,” the teacher said.

RES, a renewable energy company, is leading the charge constructing the turbines. It says it works closely with the counties to ensure it’s following code.

“If you have reasonable zoning standards, and the planning commission has proposed reasonable zoning standards, then no. You avoid all those issues,” Brad Lila, director of development for RES.

RES says it has built wind farms all over the world and that this project will benefit the community.

“A project this size is going to offer up hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. It will also offer a lot if land owner payments,” said Lila.

The president of the Fulton County commissioners, Bryan Lewis, says he’s taking his time with this project. He wants to be sure both sides are heard.

“My mind is not made up yet and I feel it’s everybody’s right and privilege for people to get out and voice their opinion,” said Lewis.

RES has a plan to place the wind farms not only in Fulton County, but in Miami and Cass Counties as well. The company says this will create hundreds of construction jobs and anywhere from 60 to 80 permanent jobs. People who are against the wind turbines say another study shows student enrollment goes down when turbines are close to the school.

They say they’re already fighting to keep their doors open and need to keep people in the county.

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