November 10, 2017

Possible wind farms divide Fulton County residents

By Jen Cardone | WNDU | Nov 10, 2017 |

People in Fulton County are divided about are divided about possible wind farms coming to town. Thursday night county commissioners held a public meeting to learn about the details of the plans.

RES, a renewable energy company, is the company being considered to bring the turbines to town. They’re working on projects in Miami and Cass Counties as well.

Over 300 residents attended the meeting. It’s a project bringing up a lot of emotions.

“I don’t have neighbors, my children can run outside and do whatever they want and this is going to change the lifestyle not just for myself for the rest of my life, but for future generations,” said Lisa, a Fulton County resident.

Lisa’s biggest concern is the proximity of the wind turbines to people’s homes. Opponents to the project said the turbines could be as close as 1,200 feet to homes.

“If the commissioners adopt these short setbacks, yes, they’re freeing some people to do what they want on their property, but they’re enslaving the rest of us and limiting us to what we can do to ours,” Lisa said.

Right now the zoning ordinance is eight years old. Commissioners would like to update it based on feedback they get from Thursday night’s meeting.

“There’s a lot of concerns the public are bringing to us so we’re looking into different resources, calling different places to get information,” said Bryan Lewis, the president of the Fulton County Commissioners. “It’s a big deal so we’re not taking anything lightly and all three commissioners are taking all of this very seriously.

Lewis said if the commissioners want to make any changes to the zoning laws, they’ll need to do so by Dec. 25.

Those for the wind turbines said they would bring many jobs to town.

“A lot of these workers commute up to the University of Notre Dame and the mass constructions up there to the power plants, and this would give them a viable, long-term close to their homes,” said James Gardner, a business representative for Local 150 operating engineers. “Not everyone has the aptitude to go to colleges or universities so those individuals need a good, life-long career and through the local building trades we can give that training to give them a nice life-long career with benefits.”

According to RES, the turbines should be no more than 50 decibels. That’s about how loud a refrigerator is.

“No one has a refrigerator right next to them all day and tries to have a conversation or tries to sleep,” Lisa said. “It’s not right next to you.”

Lisa said in Tipton County many residents complain about the noise and that their residents weren’t qualified for the jobs that were offered for them.

Gardner said America is behind the times and we need to be more willing to adapt to change. He said Benton and Wayne Counties are good examples of wind farms working well.

“We have to be competitive in this world market and stay with the times and go forward with the technology,” Gardner said. “There’s zero emissions given off by turbines compared to coal and gas facilities. This is going in the right direction for our world.”

Lewis is hopeful everyone should take time and do their own, personal research on the idea.

“This is a very emotional issue for all communities that have gone through this so I’m just hoping everybody does their due diligence and gets the facts,” Lewis said.

Brad Lila, the director of development for RES said the turbines are beneficial for farmers when field yields fluctuate.

“They know that this payment’s going to come in and it’s going to help pay the taxes and it’s going to keep the family farm within the family,” Lila said.

The multi-million dollar project is expected to bring 60 to 80 full time jobs. Commissioners couldn’t comment on remarks during the meeting. That will happen at a public hearing on Nov. 20th.

At the earliest, if passed, construction on wind turbines could start sometime next year.

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