08/19/11 Last Saturday morning more than 300 people attended an informational meeting in the Culver Elementary Gym pertaining to the proposed wind farm by Florida based NextEra. The meeting was sponsored by Concerned Property Owners of Southern Marshall County, IN.
The meeting was opened by Lake Maxinkuckee resident Mark Levett who said, “Our intention is to represent the facts and not get too emotional.” He showed a map of the proposed 17,000 acres the company has been targeting for 40 to 70 wind turbines. Levett also explained the structures that would be 320 from the base to the top of the tower and then the three blades that are 130 long for a total height of 450 feet, or a 45 story building that could be seen from a distance of 10 miles.
Iowa State Professor Roger McEowen has been speaking around the country on the various issues people have experienced since these giant structures have been popping up. Location was a main issue as they dot the landscape. Placement of turbines should be considered by the landowner and NextEra because of the physical effects some humans experience including headaches, blurred vision, and nausea, sleeplessness, ringing in the ears, depression, and concentration problems and memory loss.
Wind turbines have other side effects citizens should consider including killing birds and bats, and interference with radio and television signals, Doppler weather and GPS systems. An even bigger effect can be the possibility of reduced property values. McEowen said land owners may find their lease agreement with NextEra lucrative but neighbors could see the value of the property decrease from 6% to 30%.
Attorney Steve Snyder explained the zoning process in Marshall County. Each turbine would need a special use variance with the application being filed with the Plan Commission. The application would be reviewed by the technical review committee and then moved on to the Board of Zoning Appeals. The BZA would hold a public hearing on the variance request and notify surrounding property owners. Their decision is based on the 4 factors, 1.) General Welfare-would the project be injurious to the public’s health, safety, morals and general welfare. 2.) Development Standards-will the requirement development standards be met. 3.) Ordinance Intent-the project will not be contrary to the general purpose served by this ordinance and 4.) Comprehensive Plan-is it consistent with the character of the zoning district.
Both Snyder and McEowen urged citizens to attend the public hearing and speak about their concerns. They also encouraged them to do their own investigating on the various issues with the turbines and to seek documented facts to present to them.
At the close of the meeting members of Concerned Property Owners of Southern Marshall County , IN handed out petitions sheets and asked the audience to seeking signatures of local citizens opposed to the project.