Much has been said lately about Cass County’s proposed industrial wind turbine project. Patricia Benedict’s public forum submission on April 17 has pushed me into writing this article.
“Everyone wins with wind” is not correct. She states turbine leaseholders get paid and their neighbors do too. That looks like a win-win but is false. If a neighbor doesn’t sign a good neighbor contract they do not get paid. A neighbor that signs a good neighbor agreement is being compensated for their silence. There is a “gag” clause in the wind contracts. So if they speak out about any problems they are having with the turbines, they are then in breach of contract.
Taxpayers may think they are winners but, in the long run, that is false too. With a large wind project as is proposed in this area, property values decrease, and in turn the county will collect less property taxes on those properties.
The property owners lose net worth as their property values go down. Homes are harder to sell and frequently sell at a loss because nobody wants to live within the footprint of a large wind project. With that, school enrollment decreases as families leave the area for a better environment to raise children other than amidst a large wind farm. Not everybody wins with wind.
She states steel facilities, steelworkers and Indiana families benefit. That’s easy to write but I have found no proof of that, nor does she provide any.
She also writes that wind energy appears to not be bad for the environment. Not correct. It is true that turbines don’t pollute the air while generating power, but they are bad for the environment. Those questioning that fact need to do some research and talk to those who are affected by the presence of a large wind farm. Frequently humans and animals living amongst the wind farms suffer health problems, particularly the young and the old. “Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment,” a book written by Nina Pierpont, is a peer-reviewed report by a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine-trained M.D. an Princeton Ph.D. Dr. Pierpont explains how turbines negatively affect health. If this project goes through as planned, we will not only be seeing a great reduction in home values and negative impacts on the health of residents living close to the turbines, but safety would be diminished, wild life would be disrupted, true “farms” – whether they be grain or livestock – would produce less, and home wells and their water quality could be damaged or destroyed.
The social fabric of this area is already being torn apart due to opposing attitudes. The intrusion of the wind turbines and impact on property values for non-participating landowners is outrageous. These large industrial power plants ruin the health, peace and landscape of the rural areas.
As far as Warren Buffet’s quote, it is still correct. If it weren’t for the Production Tax Credits provided by the federal government, no company would be looking to Cass County as a place to build wind turbines.
She also states “Turbines are getting taller because they are more efficient.” Incorrect. They are getting taller because larger turbines produces more electricity because they are bigger. The huge size also makes them less acceptable for the community. Turbines projected for Cass county are much larger and more intrusive than those in nearby counties.
A for setbacks, as the current ordinance is written, turbines would be allowed at a setback of 1000 ft. from the nearest residence – not from the property line. The petition circulating currently is requesting not only that setbacks be increased to 2,640 ft. but that they be measured from the property line, not the nearest home. The petition, last I heard, had more than 1,700 signatures requesting to revise Cass Counties outdated ordinance. Our ordinance, as presently written, intrudes on the neighbor that doesn’t want a turbine and can inhibit that property owner from building on his own land if it is too close to a turbine located on a neighbor’s land.
Additionally, the proposed wind project footprint is in areas zoned agricultural or residential. The wind turbines do not fit this zoning. The setbacks of 2,640 ft. from a property line (not a residence) makes the project slightly more digestible.
It appears our county commissioners and others have dollar signs flashing in their eyes, possibly clouding their vision and good common sense. The safety, health and quality of life in rural northern Cass County is now at risk.
Our commissioners and planning commission need to revise our ordinance, increasing the set back and measure from the property line not the house.
How can the promise of money be more important than the quality of life itself? That’s something to think about …
Leslie Murray is a resident of Twelve Mile.
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