Reimers research falls short
I read Paula’s comments in her recent editorial with considerable interest. Her approach is what I would expect from a thoughtful and rational person. She explains herself and doesn’t take cheap shots like many of the anti-wind people do.
I agree with Paula that she has to take in the entire county, not just three townships when considering an ordinance. I think her research falls short with the density of 98 people per square mile. No one has proposed a wind farm anywhere else in the county. None are planned for the Courthouse lawn! The densities of each township are: Cleveland-69.2, Washington-31.6, and Jefferson-52.6 people per square mile. All are below the county average. Benton County is 22, and White is 50. If you average the three Whitley County townships, the average density is 51.1. So if density is an important measure, and it is, then the area proposed for the wind farm is comparable to White County. The density of 98 overstates the case.
Paula’s reference to economic development is right on target. This is our primary goal, too. Add jobs and dollars to the tax base to relieve the burden on the property tax payer. Paula gives credit to the “past” County Commissioners and Councilmen. That is 100% correct, but she overlooked the key story.
When the TIF district was first proposed in the 1980s, a small but vocal group of Union Township residents rose up in arms in protest. They opposed more traffic, noise, pollution, spoiling the rural setting, and the negative impact on their property value. Sound familiar? The elected officials took a lot of verbal and potentially physical abuse. It was not a pretty scene, and many of us were embarrassed by their radicalism. If you think I am overstating this, please dig out the old newspaper articles and talk to the locals who lived through that era. County economic development should look at the whole county, not just the corridor. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, Paula.
So what do we have now? We have a different group and a different time, but the same old weary, time worn arguments. It looks like the County Commissioners will have to step up to the plate again in order to do what is right. Ironically, someone in Paula’s position will look back in another 30 years and say: “We sure made a wise move when we supported a workable wind ordinance.”
Why won’t a 1500’ setback work? Several reasons: Whitley County is not Benton or White County. The agricultural landscape is different. Their farmers control very large tracts of ground. Whitley County has many more small landowners of 80-160 acres, not thousands of acres. I would note too that many of our Whitley County landowners are retired and depend on the farm income to supplement Social Security. That is a pretty good reason to sign up wouldn’t you think? Another factor is that our area has considerable woodlands that affect the placement of turbines. Benton and White are flat, open prairie land and include some of the best productive ground in the state.
Give the Wind Project a chance! The Plan Commission still has the review and approval of the development plan for any potential project. This assumes that a workable ordinance is approved not one with the overly restrictive 1500’.