I’d like to address issues surrounding the recent Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS) zoning provisions unanimously passed by our commissioners June 13. Commissioner Cronk was quoted in the June 15 issue of The Courier-Times. “I think it is more restrictive. . . Henry County will have one of the largest setback requirements for wind farms in the state.” These large corporate monstrosities are not “farms,” but rather large scale industrial manufacturing sprawl of the worst kind with nearly 100 industrial wind turbines (IWT’s) about to infiltrate pristine countryside in the northern half of Henry County covering some 15,000 acres.
The most recent WECS passed by our commissioners to now be considered by our planning commission includes a 1,500’ setback from IWT’s to a nearby resident’s dwelling. While it limits height to 500’ (175’ taller than Shenandoah’s), with a sound decimal limit of 43 decibels (day and night), it doesn’t address minimal distance requirements to the Big Blue or the New Castle Aquifer, Henry Township’s primary source for clean water. Miami and Randolph Counties both have required IWT’s being at least one-half mile to primary rivers/streams.
Most Indiana’s 92 counties don’t even have a WECS agreement because wind companies have not yet swooped into their locales to entice landowners and naive leaders with get-rich-quick schemes using faux studies and exaggerated promises. Indiana counties that do either prohibit IWT’s altogether, have a current moratorium on them, or recently increased their setbacks to > 1,500’ include: Allen, Boone, Dekalb, Delaware, Grant, Howard, Marshall, Montgomery, Noble, Rush, Steuben, Tipton, Wabash, Wayne, Wells and Whitley.
While commissioners contend their recent attempt at an updated WECS is a compromise between their original one as well as the arguments/assertions forwarded between the anti- and pro-wind groups, it evolved from setbacks being measured from a neighbor’s property line to their primary dwelling. When commissioners created a small committee to present their respective evidence, the anti-wind group had two savvy local residents armed with scientific data; the pro-wind group included a lawyer representing their interests plus a local leaseholder who stands to receive $100’s of thousands from IWT’s to be constructed on some 1,350+ acres in northern Henry County.
I contend the commissioners came down on a side that they had to know would largely appease the wind companies and signed leaseholders over the health, safety, peace-of-mind, and future property values of average John Q. Public who’ll be most adversely affected after 100’s of the IWT’s start sprouting up about our once tranquil landscape. Just focusing on worldwide studies of real estate values alone reveals a negative impact on property values from 12 percent-40 percent. Actual realtor surveys revealed a negative devaluation of 19 pecent-40 percent. Such short-sided local analyses will surely have a long-term negative health, environmental, wildlife, property, and economic impact on the future of our county.
Kenon Gray, Henry Twp.
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