Opponents of the potential introduction of wind turbines in the St. Joseph area expressed their views Wednesday night at the Buchanan County Courthouse.
The setting was a public hearing, summoned by the Buchanan County Commission, as a precursor to a decision the panel will need to make on a proposed wind energy ordinance. The ordinance deals with the placement of wind turbines around the county, and has been studied in recent months by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The board will eventually forward its recommendation to the County Commission, which will be charged with either affirming or denying the document. A Florida company has expressed some initial interest in the potential of developing a wind farm in the St. Joseph area.
One after another, residents opposed to the measure – and the notion of wind energy for Buchanan County – took to the podium to decry the technology as despoiling the rural landscape. Retired Platte County judge Abe Shafer moderated the hearing, outlining a series of guidelines for each speaker to follow.
First to speak was Rick Kneib, a resident of South 90th Road, who cited several studies that claimed wind turbines have negative impacts on property values and cause a “stigma” due to noise pollution and shadows created by the large blades.
Joe Worsham, of Easton, Missouri, told the planning and zoning board he is concerned about the turbines’ effect on rural quality of life. He said the county is “way too urban for this type of project. … From our deck, we can see the turbines over Osborn.”
According to Worsham’s research, the turbines can result in a 15% to 20% decline in property values. He said that would represent “a huge hit” to an investment meant to last a lifetime. … We don’t think that’s a good fit for our county.”
Another Easton resident, Lynn Anderson, said he didn’t want wind energy to result in a destruction of friendly relations with neighbors.
Other speakers said they would like the ordinance, now in its third draft, to enact a property setback of at least 1 mile from the turbines. A petition to that effect already has gathered more than 600 signatures. Still others asked for a 2-mile exclusion for the county’s smaller communities, as is being sought for St. Joseph.
Mike Simon, who lives in Marion Township, said he isn’t opposed to renewable energy per se, and has installed a solar unit at his home. Working as a home builder, he believes the turbines will adversely impact the trade along with property values.
Anita Simon, who is a member of the Friends of Buchanan County, said the organization would prefer to have an all-out ban on wind energy for the county. The turbines, she said, represent “visual pollution.”
Simon also said a wind farm would hurt the county’s ability to pursue economic development endeavors.
“I would not, and could not, do something that would harm my neighbor,” she said.
County government will continue to collect opinions on the matter through the end of the month, followed by further study. Planning and zoning members could make a recommendation to the County Commission in March.
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