The health, safety and property rights of citizens were the key themes in a discussion about wind energy projects Thursday at the Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting .
The meeting is a response to E.ON Climate & Renewables placing a meteorological tower in Harrisburg to collect wind data and ultimately decide if a wind farm would be viable there. E.ON is a German company with 23 wind farms around the country.
If the project proves viable, the company plans to purchase over 20,000 acres north of Harrisburg to develop into their latest wind farm. The company states they have already entered into agreements with owners of 2,500 acres, according to previous Missourian reporting.
Some neighbors see the wind turbines as a much needed source of renewable energy and economic growth, as detailed in previous Missourian reporting.
However, opponents to wind turbines cite that farms have previously been used in less densely populated areas.
Tom Weislocher, a property owner in the heart of E.ON’s potential project, said he believes in finding alternative sources of energy, but worries that Boone County is not the place for wind farms.
“The area is too densely populated for the landscape, lifestyle and current usage,” Weislocher said.
Opponents also fret over how these towers could impact property value and local wildlife, and the potential long-term health consequences for the people in the area.
The majority of the area where E.ON would potentially build is currently zoned as agricultural property; wind turbines are typically zoned as industrial. The commission must determine how the wind energy projects would be regulated in the agricultural zoning.
Thursday was one of six meetings the commission is dedicating to discussing potential wind farm regulations. Stan Shawver, Boone County director of resource management, and his staff are tasked with determining how wind farms would be regulated. In an email, Shawver wrote that the regulations discussed in these meetings are “a starting point.”
Jeff McCann, an engineer for Boone County, said that while it is important to not overly regulate the energy projects, the commission’s responsibility is to ensure the safety of citizens.
“It is not our job to make sure they come here,” McCann said. “It is our job to make sure it can be done safely … You can argue all day about profits but when I talk about safety, I win.”
The commission will be discussing wind farms in more detail at its next meeting, which will be held at 4:30 p.m. on June 13 at the Boone County Government Center, 801 E. Walnut, Room 315.
Supervising editor is Libby Stanford.