A half-dozen Seneca County residents expressed opposition Tuesday to plans for a wind farm to cover some 35,000 acres in Seneca and Sandusky counties.
The residents spoke to Seneca County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning about Republic Wind Farm, which would consist of up to 58 wind turbines with a total generating capacity of up to 200 megawatts, according to documents filed with the state. Legislation pending at the Ohio Statehouse would change property line setback requirements for the nearly 600-foot-tall wind mills, and property tax breaks that are part of an alternative energy zone enacted by previous commissioners, would make the wind project feasible.
Most objections focused on disruption of the rural landscape and potential negative impact on property values.
“I don’t like the idea of these wind turbines being in the backdrop of Tiffin,” said Ray Kuhn, of rural Tiffin. Referencing the official state seal on the wall behind the commissioners, Kuhn said the addition of a wind farm would mean adding a wind turbine in front of the sun, a stone driveway running through the field and a dead eagle in the forest.
“We are trashing the rural community,” said Diane Hudak, of rural Tiffin. “It’s not going to benefit the whole community.”
Hudak asked commissioners to rescind the alternative energy zone, to oppose bills changing setback requirements and to intervene with the Ohio Power Siting Board, which has regulatory oversight on wind projects.
“Self-destruction is not progress,” she said.
Jim Steinmetz, a Scipio Township resident, also objected to plans for the wind farm.
“These are not farms,” he said. “These are industrial-sized cancers.”
Large-scale wind projects “turn rural communities into industrial zones,” he said. “Turbines are costly and ineffective.”
“We do not need these turbines in our backyard, interfering with our lives,” said Ethan Hoepf, of Republic.
“You can rezone Seneca County,” he said. “We ask that you take us all out of the alternative energy zone.”
Kurt Lease, of rural Tiffin, reminded commissioners of the image of a blue sky that had been on a video screen in the meeting room.
“That’s a beautiful sight, in my eyes,” he said. “I’d hate to see it get ruined.”
He also recalled the logo for a community branding initiative that had been shown on that video screen, a stylized depiction of the Seneca County Justice Center, Tiffin skyline, Sandusky River and a bridge.
“If you get a bunch of windmills around here, you are going to have to change it because you’ll need windmills in the background,” he said.
Asked where the board members stand on the issue, Commissioner Shayne Thomas said he hadn’t yet heard anything to warrant rescinding the alternative energy zone.
“I guess I’m pro-wind,” said Commissioner Holly Stacy. “I do want to listen to everybody on both sides of the issue.”
“I don’t think anybody is … anti-wind turbine,” Commissioner Mike Kerschner said. “I think they are anti-wind-turbine-in-my-backyard.”
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