Wind farm issue will soon be resolved, but …
Credit: 2/4/2023 | David Stevens | thedailynews.cc ~~
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After reading Don Smucker’s analysis of Montcalm County’s green energy conflict in the Jan. 21 Daily News, I am also very concerned – but for a different reason. The wind ordinance issue will be resolved, but I am concerned some people in our society hold democracy in such contempt.
Smucker boils down the problem quite nicely: “(Some people) simply do not want to look at any wind turbine … because they do not like how they look.” A simple summation based on complete and willful ignorance. I live in a wind farm, Smucker does not. In my opinion, wind farms destroy lives, homes and communities. There are no long-term benefits (except possibly for wind developers and absentee land owners).
Anyone can find infinite testimonials online regarding the negative effects of wind farms. I have personally experience many of these negative effects. They include sleep interruption, nuisance noise, headaches (infrasound), tinnitus, depression, shadow flicker, property value destruction, area depopulation, school enrollment declines and the destruction of social fabric (Montcalm County already knows this one). Turbines cause health impacts; then try selling your house with the health issues. Smucker drives by wind farms at 70 mph and discounts all these issues.
Smucker laments those “touting the “democratic” process of voting out anything or anyone they do not agree with.” Sorry Mr. Smucker, that’s the point of democracy. Sometimes you are in the minority and don’t get your way. Wind farms are the most unpopular election issue I have ever seen on a ballot, sometimes losing 10 to 1. I don’t know how to fix that for you.
Smucker observes, “Other states are adopting statewide standards that do provide adequate protection of public health.” Very few states have completely usurped local zoning authority. Perhaps, Ohio has the best state renewable energy statute. Ohio allows every county to accept or decline renewable energy development and the citizens have the ability to referendum that decision. Of course, referendum is the last thing developers want to see. In November 2022, Crawford County, Ohio, citizens voted down wind development 75% to 25%. BTW, I will go on the record as opposing “adequate” protection.
Smucker states “good zoning involves making compromises and trying to balance what may be the self-interests of the parties involved.” Nope, 100% wrong. Zoning is not about compromises, it is about avoiding incompatible land uses and protecting “health, safety, and welfare” of residents.
Smucker also laments those “resorting to the violence that we have witnessed.” I follow all township meetings; there has been no violence. Residents get angry when their health, home and wealth are threatened. Land owners get angry when their lucrative deals are threatened. But anger is not violence. I do agree this issue is a powder keg. I don’t understand local officials that choose to play with fire.
Smucker worries the wind development issue “does not have a prayer of being resolved by the one issue individuals that are now being put into place.” Wrong again. Without a doubt, Montcalm townships will resolve the wind development issue. Countless Michigan townships have resolved this issue. Mr. Smucker is just bemoaning a resolution contrary to his personal interests.
Smucker observes: “we need a reasonable set of rules to guide our green energy siting processes and we are incapable of doing it by ourselves.” I think Mr. Smucker is suggesting the pro-development minority has no legal means for forcing wind turbines onto the now organized majority. He suggests only the ivory tower gurus of Lansing can crack the code and deliver green nirvana to Montcalm County. I disagree, Lansing officials don’t have to live next door to their decision.
Smucker submitted a poorly reasoned and factually incorrect opinion. That’s his right. But forcing public nuisances onto rural homeowners is not his or anyone else’s right. If the state of Michigan wishes to interject itself into this local issue and discard 100 years of local zoning; I guess they can. But rural homeowners continue to organize and the end result will be determined by those citizens that still believe in democracy and wish to protect their property rights and country lifestyle.
David Stevens lives in Midland County on his great-grandfather’s original homestead, purchased in the late 1800s. This farm is in the Meridian Wind Facility with nine turbines within one mile.
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