Public interest has been high and the issue has garnered
unprecedented attention. Before the meeting began, 38-year appeals
board member Dean Toohey said that these hearings had exceeded the
biggest past controversies, which included debate over a coal mining
operation, and more recently the development of an ethanol plant.
The board's decision will be based on criteria of set points. The
board will consider if the turbines would cause people living within
range of them problems with health, safety, morals or general
welfare; if they could be injurious to the use and enjoyment of the
property in the area or diminish property values; if they would
impede future development of surrounding property; and that adequate
infrastructure and necessary facilities would be provided.
A statement of support was read from the executive director of
the Lincoln & Logan Development Partnership, Joel Smiley. The
project would supply significant economic impact through jobs, as
well as income for landowners.
In addition, the letter said that this could cause other
opportunities for green energy to emerge.
Later discussion presented that residents living in the footprint
of the towers could be offered a renewable settlement agreement in
an amount to be determined that would be between $750 and $1,000 a
The opposition is asking that if the conditional use would be
passed, would the board add a property value insurance requirement
from Horizon so that residents could be assured of being able sell
their homes without losing on their investment?
Board members have patiently listened to every person wishing to
offer public testimony.
At the hearing Tuesday evening, public opinion was solicited row
by row. Anyone who had not had the opportunity previously was given
the floor. They began about 7:35 and testimony continued to 10 p.m.
Issues raised by some were answered by others as they came
Concern: Aerial spraying could not be done.
Response: Spraying could be by ground, as previously done, or by
some other means.
Altering the land
Concern: Leaving concrete bases behind when decommissioned.
Response: Not likely to be decommissioned any time soon with
such a big investment. Everything changes.
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Loss of food
production that feeds the world
Concern: There would be a loss of crop area, reducing
production, such as seed corn.
Response: It is a small amount acreage affected. It is a
trade-off for energy that is needed.
Concern: Turbines disturb radar interpretation. An area of radar
would have interference in the actual area of the turbines.
Response: Weather experts are working to identify a means of
extrapolating surrounding data.
Taxes generated would help local schools, roads and
Many details were examined: the rights of property owners,
potential economic prosperity, responsibility in using the earth's
resources, the need for electricity and the alternative resources,
protecting our environment from fuels that pollute or contribute to
greenhouse gases, protecting the earth from the concrete remnants
that would be left when the turbines are gone, potential effects on
health, and much more.
No time limit was set, but in one instance a woman giving the
whole account of her marriage and family's health was asked to bring
it to a related point. She'd spoken for approximately 30 minutes.
Her concerns were that they would be living near a turbine and it
might aggravate her husband's condition. He has suffered poor health
related to brain disorders. Her daughter has a shunt in her head
that might also be affected by the electromagnetic field created by
a wind turbine.
When public testimony concluded, one hour remained before the
building was to be closed at 11 p.m. The lawyers were each given a
half-hour of that time to sum up their evidence and present closing
Rick Porter represented a group in opposition, Union Ridge Wind.
Frank Miller represented the developer, Horizon Wind Energy.
A large portion of the crowd stayed for the full 3 1/2-hour
hearing. Groans could be heard throughout the gym as tired and achy
bodies struggled to rise from the hard, wood benches to exit.
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]