GALESBURG – Supporters and opponents continued passionate discussion about a proposed wind generation project Wednesday evening, sometimes drawing rebuke and sometimes asking if the forum was beneficial.
One person reminded the audience that the location was a church.
“This is a courtesy for this meeting,” he said. “Keep it down or get out.”
Residents again filled the United Methodist Church in Galesburg to discuss the project before the Neosho County Commission. The commission has also received input during the public commentary portion of its weekly meetings, and has held previous town hall meetings in Galesburg.
Not all of the speakers introduced themselves. The most emotional moment came when one man said his property had decreased in value by $7,000 during the past 30 days as a result of the wind project.
One audience member rose to note that someone else was continually talking during other speakers.
“The little snide comments and the little laughing needs to stop,” Commissioner Jennifer Orr said.
Recent commission candidate and lease holder Bryan Schulz said that the large meetings do not seem to be productive.
“When it’s all said and done, we’ve just got to come together. I’m tired of these meetings,” he said. “Is it perfect? No. We’ve got to come up with common ground.”
He proposed representatives of the opponents, Apex (the company proposing the project) and a commissioner hold a meeting.
“Life’s too short. Some of us might not make it home tonight,” Schulz said.
“I keep hearing the same thing come up every time. Every time,” area resident Don Young said. He suggested a show of hands for support.
Vernon Goff said he worked at coal-fired plants, and would like to see the construction of the wind turbines.
“I’m not scared of these people at all,” he said.
Toni Carter supported the project as clean and progressive.
“My gosh! Who would keep showing up to this?” she said.
Another supporter said that wind and solar power were the least contaminating forms of energy.
“How much squawking would we be hearing if they were building a nuclear plant here?” he said.
An opponent who gave his name as Dale said the materials used to manufacture the turbines were toxic and not recyclable.
“People who think these things are clean energy are being misled,” he said. “The carbon footprint’s already well underway.”
“I feel like I have been completely duped,” opponent Shirley Estrada said.
“I love wind energy, other than I don’t want one in my backyard,” Ray Hizey said. “I’d like to trust you, I really would, but I’ve been hurt by the gas companies.”
John Cramer asked opponents and supporters if they had lived near a wind farm. He said he lived 1 ½ mile away from one for about a year, and sound was not an issue.
Apex Clean Energy plans to build the project in the southwest area of Neosho County, and company representatives at the meeting were from Charlottesville, Va.
“I would live next to a wind project,” Jade Scheele, development manager for Apex, said.
She presented maps of the project area showing a setback of 1,425 feet from property lines, as has been previously suggested by opponents, and said that setback would eliminate 60 percent of the buildable area. Scheele said the project would not be viable in that case.
Opponent Dale Jeffrey said the project is proposed for a “highly, densely populated” area.
“It’s not feasible because of the population,” he said.
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