Zoning changes could sink wind farms in Marshall Co.

Marshall County once seemed to welcome the idea of a multi-million dollar wind farm development—but that may soon change.

“This is about people, about the health hazards a wind turbine, health hazards, environmental problems and aesthetic problems a wind turbine farm would bring in our beautiful Marshall County,” said Carol Zeglis, of Culver.

Zeglis and about 75 others attended a public hearing before the Marshall County Board of Commissioners today on proposed changes to the wind farm zoning ordinance adopted in 2010.

“I think the way that some of these things have been proposed it would be very difficult for a wind farm company to come in here and set up wind turbines,” said County Commissioner Kevin Overmyer.

The biggest proposed change deals with how close an industrial grade wind turbine could be located to a residence.

Right now, the minimum setback is 1,000 feet. The proposed change would increase that to 2,640 feet, or one half mile.

Furthermore, that half mile separation would expand to include schools, churches, parks and even rivers.

Many of the proposed changes did get a favorable recommendation at a meeting of the Marshall County Plan Commission in January.

“A thousand foot is, in my opinion not enough to protect the citizens, protect the people in their home,” said plan commission member Stan Klotz. “I had nothing to do with it, but I welcome it. Get the chance to revisit it again.”

The changes are being pushed by a grass roots group called Concerned Property Owners of Marshall County.

One thing government leaders are hearing now, that they didn’t hear before, is the contention that what you don’t hear—can hurt you.

“Infra-sound is something that’s below what you normally would hear, but your ear and brain still sense it and it has an effect on you and that effect being usually nausea, unsteadiness, and most significantly, sleep disturbance,” said Steve Snyder, the attorney for Concerned Property Owners of Marshall County.

When Snyder was asked if the proposed changes were really a veiled attempt to make it impossible or impractical for a wind farm to locate in Marshall County, he replied, “If you put these protections in place and it eliminates any location or a wind turbine in Marshall County, it wasn't intended to be here anyway. Wind farms belong in non-populous areas where these affects aren’t going to be felt.”

Today’s hearing lasted about 90 minutes. The commissioners tabled the matter and will consider the proposed wind farm zoning changes at a meeting on May 6th.

While a Florida company called NextEra talked in 2011 about building a wind farm in Marshall and Fulton Counties with as many as 70 turbines, government officials today said they hadn’t heard from the company lately.

Attempts to contact officials with NextEra were not successful.


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