Farming Community Against Wind Farm

By Rachel Martin

December 8, 2011 Updated Dec 8, 2011 at 11:56 PM EST

WELLS COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – The Wells County Plan Commission and Apex Wind Energy held another public meeting Thursday night to give answers and hear more public feedback about the proposed wind farm in southern Wells Co.

The wind was blowing strong in Wells County Thursday night, but not the way the Plan Commission and Apex Wind Energy officials had hoped. The Wells County Plan Commission was supposed to vote on the proposed wind farm project in Chester and Liberty townships, but community members were not allowing it.

A little over a dozen people raised their hands when asked who was in favor of the wind farm. Otherwise, almost all of the approximately 100 people that crowded the Southern Wells High School cafeteria were greatly opposed to the idea.

The community’s main concerns are noise, health risks, and decreasing property values. Residents are worried the hum of the spinning turbines will cause "wind turbine syndrome,” a constant ringing in the ears, and keep them up at night. Apex officials say the turbines would create between 50 and 90 decibels of noise, which is equivalent to the hum of a refrigerator.

A few residents shared their concerns with Indiana’s NewsCenter regarding, “strobe effect,” where light flickers off of the turbine blades. They say shadow flickering could cause seizures and epilepsy. Tim Stepp will have a wind turbine built 1000 ft. from his front door. He also has a relative who suffers from seizures that he and his wife care for. He says the shadow flickering, could exacerbate the problem.

“We are in one of the most intense areas of the entire plan. If this were to happen, my sister-in-law would not be able to stay in our residence. She would then have to relocate and since we are her care givers, we also would have to relocate,” Stepp said.

The biggest issue among residents is the decrease in property values from the wind farm. Residents say they would feel trapped because no one would buy a home close to a wind farm. Allison Alma and her husband just purchased property in Liberty Township to build a home. She said she just found out a 490 ft. wind turbine will be built in her future back yard.

“I paid for all the permits and nobody ever said anything to me about it. My house is probably going to be done in about two months and now I'm sitting there thinking, 'what am I going to do?' If I would've known, I would've never purchased this property,” Alma said.

Alma said her sister happened to be in the Plan Commission’s office one day and noticed a map marking the locations of the turbines. Alma says she tried contacting the Governor and has made numerous other calls trying to figure out her rights to fighting Apex. Alma says if the project is approved, “I’ll probably cry,” she said. “And then I’ll pick up the pieces and maybe we’ll start fighting.”

Both Alma and Stepp say they have not been contacted by anyone from Apex concerning compensation for the wind turbines on their properties.

Nick Huffman is one resident who is in favor of the wind farm project. He says the wind farm will boost the county’s economy. He says Southern Wells High School will receive between $600K and $900K toward Capital Funds Projects, and fire departments in Chester, Liberty, and Nottingham Townships will receive between $8-$20K. He says the wind farms will create more jobs and gain recognition for Wells Co.

“We don’t have anything in Wells Co. to show for. With this, it’s going to get us on the map a little better,” Huffman said.

Apex handed out a packet of questions and answers at the meeting. The packet confirms Huffman’s statements and also addressed the issues of noise, health, and depreciating properties. Apex and the County Plan Commission conducted a study of realtors and appraisers from Benton and White counties in northwestern Indiana where other wind farms are located. Their study shows property values did not go down in those areas, and homes were selling for market price.

Apex and the Plan Commission officials say approximately 200 people have leased their properties for wind turbines in Wells Co. so far. If the project gets approved, construction will begin in the Spring of 2012.




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