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NORWALK – Citizens attended the Huron County Commissioners meeting Thursday morning to discuss Apex Clean Energy.
Apex is developing Emerson Creek Wind, a potential wind turbine facility, that will be located on open farmland in Erie and Huron counties.
The project is currently moving through the permitting process with the Ohio Power Sitting Board.
On Thursday, the commissioners approved an exemption of property taxes for the Emerson Creek Wind facility in Huron County. Instead, an annual service payment will be required.
The annual service payments will be required at a specific time and manner.
At least four Huron County residents attended the meeting to express their opinions on the project.
Commissioner Terry Boose said this legislation has “nothing to do about whether we’re for or against wind energy.” He said the decision comes down to how the county will receive money through the project, whether that’s through a pilot or property tax.
“This has nothing to do with whether Apex is coming or not, that’s up to the sitting board. If they are coming, we want to make sure that we’re going to be paid,” Commissioner Skip Wilde said.
Patricia Didion, of Bellevue, said if Apex begins building a turbine farm, the agriculture landscape will change and local properties will be negatively impacted.
“Turbines will negatively impact neighboring properties, homes and landscapes and decrease their real estate values significantly,” she said. “They also will negatively impact a person’s health and well-being and cause concern for one’s safety, wildlife habitats, drainage systems, waterways will also be disrupted and damaged.”
Jessie Roeder said people in her community built houses in the area, not expecting a facility “in their backyard.”
“(Wind turbines are) obsolete, they kill our birds or bats, everything. I don’t think that we need them in our community,” she said. “We already have a good source of energy, and it’s reasonable, we can afford it.”
Sheila Poffenbaugh, of Norwich Township, said if the pilot is denied, Apex has said it would challenge the tax assessment and delay the payment of taxes.
“Why would you want to do business with a company that makes a threat like that before the project even starts?” she said. “These companies get tax breaks through state and federal funding with our tax dollars already.”
Commissioner Joe Hintz said the project coming to Huron County is beyond the commissioner’s control.
“I wish we had more local control, I am not pro-wind turbine,” he said. “If we’re faced with the real estate taxes or the pilot, the pilot looks like the best we can do.”
Hintz said the commissioners are not trying to encourage them to come.
“They’re going to come, there’s no question about that. We’re just kind of stuck in the middle,” he said. “It’s just where we’re at.”
In other news, the commissioners discussed in executive session the old jail.
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