An estimated 75 Republic area residents opposed to building wind turbines near their properties showed up at a quarterly off-site meeting of the Seneca County commissioners Wednesday night.
Knowing many people were going to attend the meeting, the commissioners changed the location from the Thompson Township trustees hall to Flat Rock Home, southwest of Bellevue.
The fervor of the crowd grew as each property owner voiced concerns about the structures that will stand nearly 600 feet high with blades nearly 450 feet wide.
By the time the end of the two-hour meeting neared, those residents were given at least a glimmer of hope they may prevail.
One by one, residents continued with their testimony that began at last week’s regular commissioners’ meeting in Tiffin. They argued the turbines are unsafe for them and their families, are a danger to wildlife and especially to birds, emit noise, and ruin the rural landscape.
One resident, Jessica Cornett, said she was concerned the turbines could damage residents’ “brain waves.”
Firefighters from the east side of the county also voiced concerns about medical helicopters being able to safely land and take off from areas near the turbines.
Dalton Carr, development manager for APEX, the company that wants to erect the turbines, said the area would realize at least $90 million in revenues, even if the devices don’t operate.
Carr also said the project could not move forward unless it receives approval from the Ohio Power Sitting Board, and it is being reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration.
A total of nearly 60 turbines would sprout up from the Green Springs area to the Bellevue area, including near Republic, if the project goes forward. Nearly 30,000 acres would be involved across Seneca and Sandusky counties.
Mike Kerschner, president of the board of commissioners, said he has been unable to find a way for opponents to halt the construction of the turbines.
Because the structures would be regulated by the state, any referendum on the issue would likely need to be a statewide one.
Commissioner Holly Stacy noted unless pending state legislation is passed that would make rules on turbines less restrictive, the project is not likely to proceed. Some residents seemed to take solace in that statement.
What is more likely to be music to the property owners’ ears came when Kerschner told them he would consider rescinding a previous resolution to make the areas in question part of an alternative energy zone (AEZ).
The establishment of an AEZ has made it easier to erect the turbines, but Commissioner Shayne Thomas said the devices could be constructed without the designation and even without passage of the pending legislation.
In other business, commissioners put on hold a move to establish an emergency notification system Fostoria officials have expressed an interest in joining.
The system would allow local residents to be notified of emergency situations and road closures via text and possibly by phone.
Stacy asked for the delay in order to further study the project.
Commissioners also voted to purchase a new cruiser for the sheriff’s office and to sign a contract with a Columbus firm to purchase bridge components for upcoming repair work in the county.
A measure to move forward with a project to clear trees and acquire property near the county airport was also given the nod.
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