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UNFAIR TO AGRICULTURE? Proponents of wind energy say their point of view not considered

February 1, 2012

Left to right, Steve Sickafoose, Walt Trier and Doug Reiff. — Post & Mail photos / James Thomlison

COLUMBIA CITY — Whitley County’s most volatile hot-button issue for the past year or more has been wind energy — to embrace the possible arrival of 400-foot-high wind turbines or tell the companies who market the wind harnessers “no thank you, we don’t want them.”
While both sides of this heated debate have been represented through the myriad public hearings and committee meetings, it appears the squeakiest wheel in the debate is about to be lubricated more thoroughly than a wind turbine’s gearbox.
“We thought the project was nothing more than, say, building a silo, building a hog house — a reasonable permit,” said longtime Whitley County farmer Steve Sickafoose. “Boy were we wrong.”
Sickafoose and about 150 others in the county, signed lease agreements to allow high towers to be placed on their land with the purpose of measuring wind. It was hoped, at that time, that the company investigating the possibility of a wind farm, or a configuration of multiple windmills, would deem the area viable to proceed with a project.
According to Sickafoose, and fellow farmers Doug Reiff and Walter Trier, that was before opponents to the installation of windmills in the county began to cry “foul.”
Planners, led by the Whitley County Plan Commission and the Columbia City/Whitley County Joint Planning and Building Department, began seeing the need to regulate potential wind farms. An ordinance was drafted.
The commission began poring over the details of the ordinance, which Planning & Building Executive Director Dave Sewell said was drafted to protect the county and its citizens.
Meanwhile, throngs of those very citizens swarmed plan commission meetings and demanded what men like Sickafoose claim are impossible restrictions which he says will ultimately ensure Whitley County will never host a single wind turbine.
Final coffin nail? — according to Sickafoose, Reiff and Trier it’s a wind turbine setback of 1,500 feet from the property line of anyone who is not participating in the project.
While at least one company, St. Louis-based Wind Capital Group, is seeking to build a wind farm in Whitley County, Sickafoose said the new and expanded set back will cause the potential developers to pack up and look elsewhere.
Sewell agrees.
“We’re closer than we’ve ever been (to having an ordinance), “Sewell said.
“You cannot say for sure that it will be, but it (the 1,500-foot setback) would appear to be a deal breaker.
“To my knowledge, it is a greater setback than any other ordinance in the state,” Sewell said.
The three county residents say they are disenchanted with the Whitley County government and some members of its citizenry. They also claim that 60 percent of county residents who have expressed opposition to wind turbines don’t even live in the area of the county where windmills would be erected.
“I’m not too proud of the county right now,” said Sickafoose.
The three men also say harnessing the wind for energy is nothing new, as evidenced by the century-old structures that still stand in many parts of the country, hearkening back to a day when water was sucked from the ground via pumps powered by spinning windmill blades.
“We are not pioneers here,” Sickafoose said.

Comments

Will this keep

March 22, 2012 by Mickie3 (not verified), 2 years 39 weeks ago
Comment: 3324

Will this new ordinance effect landowners who want to put a SMALL wind power generator on their property too?

Wind Farm

February 16, 2012 by Proudtobeanamerican (not verified), 2 years 44 weeks ago
Comment: 3320

It appears to me that Mr. Sickafoose is more concerned about the money that he will receive for his wind farm! He appears to have no concern for the people of the community or what affects wind farms will have for many years to come!

Wind Turbines

February 7, 2012 by btwolfe (not verified), 2 years 45 weeks ago
Comment: 3317

Unlike Mr. Sickafoose, I am proud of the Citizens of Whitley County!

Neighbors that may have just waved while passing by, have banned together to fight what we believe to be wrong. We started out by stuffing mailboxes because the average citizen had no idea that John Doster and Wind Capital Group were doing their best to shove the zoning through without the average citizen knowing anything about it.

Whitley County Concerned Citizens was formed and grew amazingly quick and became very knowledgable on the wind industry. We worked bipartisan for one goal, to get the truth out about Wind Turbines to the citizens of Whitley County. With the power of the internet we grew WORLD WIDE. Now this group of Whitley County Citizens are regularly invited to come in and do a presentations all over the United States.

Because of their research, and goal to produce the truth on Industrial Wind Farms, we even have a Whitley County resident (Joan Null) that was asked to be part of an 22 member panel on wind power in Washington DC. Whitley County Concerned Citizens research was done to separate fact from speculation. Whitley County Concerned Citizens have become a wealth of knowledge on the facts about Indutrial Wind Farms. If you're tired of big government taking advantage of us, check out www.wcccitzens.org

Thank you,
Brad Wolfe

Wind Ordinance

February 6, 2012 by Phil97 (not verified), 2 years 46 weeks ago
Comment: 3316

I do not believe these industrial-sized wind turbines are in the best interests of our citizens or our county even assuming that the same do generate the suggested monetary benefit.

I grew up in Oakwood, Paulding County, Ohio, and I frequently travel there to visit my family. Over the past many months, I watched with interest, then disgust, as the Paulding County, Ohio, wind turbines were being constructed and put into operation along State Highway 613. However, I was horrified during my trip on Christmas night when I witnessed the Paulding County night sky ablaze with hundreds of red, blinking, lights as far as I could see for mile after mile. Until that night, I did not realize that each turbine is topped with a red, blinking, light and the sight of them all blinking in unison was egregiously shocking.

I do not wish for wind turbines to be within sight of my property. If Whitley County is going to allow these wind monstrosities then a 1500-foot setback is too close as far as I am concerned. I love the rural nature of Whitley County and letting the wind-energy companies pollute our landscape and night sky will diminish our county’s country charm.

Notwithstanding the visual effects, health concerns, etc. from wind farms, I am totally against these federally subsidized wind energy companies being further subsidized with local tax abatements and such.

The county’s ordinance on this issue needs to be as repugnant to the wind-energy companies as their wind turbines are to me.

Jo Zimmermann

Unfair to Agriculture

February 3, 2012 by may38 (not verified), 2 years 46 weeks ago
Comment: 3315

This item becomes editorial opinion, not news, with the writer's early statement, "... it appears the squeakiest wheel in the debate is about to be lubricated more thoroughly than a wind turbine’s gearbox."
Beyond that, the three spokesmen for agriculture must be in a weak position if their best arguments for wind turbines are that they are little different from silos, hog houses or the old farm windmills.
Also, the wind farm ordinance is a countywide issue, not something that just applies to the landowners who signed agreements to have the turbines on their land.
A drive to the eastern or western borders of our state clearly illustrates we're not talking silos or water-pumping windmills here.
Roger Metzger
rural Whitley County

David Ditton pretty much

February 3, 2012 by puddyie (not verified), 2 years 46 weeks ago
Comment: 3314

David Ditton pretty much summed up exactly what I wanted said. How in the world can you compare a silo or a hog house to a 400' industrial wind turbine?

These 3 insinuate the county's residents should not become involved if a turbine is not going to be in their area? WOW!! I thought everyone should always be involved in what their government is doing 'for them'.

A 1500' setback will NOT 'protect the county and its citizens'.

Thank you!

Tricia & John Morton

Where do I start...?

February 1, 2012 by dditton (not verified), 2 years 46 weeks ago
Comment: 3313

I guess I need to take this one paragraph at a time:

“We thought the project was nothing more than, say, building a silo, building a hog house — a reasonable permit,” said longtime Whitley County farmer Steve Sickafoose. “Boy were we wrong.”
An industrial wind turbine that reaches 400 feet into the sky is NOT a hog house! Hardly reasonable. Yep, you were wrong.

"According to Sickafoose, and fellow farmers Doug Reiff and Walter Trier, that was before opponents to the installation of windmills in the county began to cry “foul.”"
You mean "that was before the County was caught trying to fly this in under the radar."

"Final coffin nail? — according to Sickafoose, Reiff and Trier it’s a wind turbine setback of 1,500 feet from the property line of anyone who is not participating in the project. “You cannot say for sure that it will be, but it (the 1,500-foot setback) would appear to be a deal breaker. “To my knowledge, it is a greater setback than any other ordinance in the state,” Sewell said."
Across the globe, setbacks are increasing due to health concerns. Multiple counties across Indiana have wind ordinances that were slipped in by the wind companies with big promises and little public involvement. The 'deal-breaking' setbacks are indicative of the fact that southern Whitley County is too densely populated to support such a project.

"The three county residents say they are disenchanted with the Whitley County government and some members of its citizenry. They also claim that 60 percent of county residents who have expressed opposition to wind turbines don’t even live in the area of the county where windmills would be erected.
“I’m not too proud of the county right now,” said Sickafoose."
A wind ordinance for Whitley County would regulate ALL of Whitley County, not just the southwest corner. Therefore, ALL Whitley County residents should have their say, whether they 'live there' or not.

"The three men also say harnessing the wind for energy is nothing new, as evidenced by the century-old structures that still stand in many parts of the country, hearkening back to a day when water was sucked from the ground via pumps powered by spinning windmill blades.
“We are not pioneers here,” Sickafoose said."
GIVE ME A BREAK! A 50-foot windmill for a well is NOT a 400-foot industrial wind turbine. It isn't a hog barn, either.

Whitley County Patriots stands opposed to wind turbines due to the incredible amount of Federal and local subsidies that are poured into this green-energy boondoggle. Without massive tax dollars, these projects are unsustainable.

David Ditton
Whitley County Patriots

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