Marshall County today unanimously overhauled an ordinance that spells out where commercial wind turbines can, and can’t be located.
The new rules are so tough; some say they effectively make it impossible to locate a wind farm in Marshall County.
“I'm saying that when a population density is such that we can't establish a wind turbine and not maintain at the bare minimum a half mile setback from a residence, then it’s not the place,” said Attorney Stephen Snyder, of Concerned Citizens of Marshall County. “Marshall County has a population density I think of 106 people per square mile. White County is 52 people per square mile. Benton County is even less, so where there are wind farms the population density is much less, and you don't have to worry as much, about being 1,000 feet away from somebody sleeping.”
The old rules stated that a wind turbine had to be 1,000 feet away from the nearest residence. The revised rules passed unanimously today by the Marshall County Commissioners more than doubled that distance to 2,640 feet (one half mile).
The new rules also require a commercial wind turbine to be at least a half mile from a church building, a school building, a public park, or a river.
“Everybody knows that it’s a young industry and we’re just now beginning to recognize what the health effects are,” said Attorney Snyder.
In the fall of 2011, a Florida based company called NextEra came to Marshall County and spoke publicly about building a wind farm with up to 70 turbines. That’s about the time that Marshall County adopted its original wind energy ordinance.
“The information that’s available now compared to two years ago is significant. The effects of the low frequency sounds, whether it’s 1,000 feet away or a half mile away or sometimes even a mile away is much more significant than anyone thought because we don’t hear it, the brain feels it the brain reacts to it and usually it results in sleeplessness and can aggravate existing conditions,” Snyder said.
NextEra has been silent on the latest rule changes.
Later this month, the Marshall County Commissioners will take up the wind ordinance again.
On May 20th, they’ll consider a proposed ordinance that would ban commercial wind farms in Marshall County.