The Press-Dispatch

February 12, 2020

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The Press-Dispatch East Gibson News Wednesday, Februar y 12, 2020 B- 7 Neighbors divided: Zoning debate brings out citizens on both sides By Janice Barniak The Gibson County Area Planning Com- mission, currently drafting a zoning ordi- nance, met to listen to community feedback at the Toyota Events Center at the county fairgrounds last Wednesday. Citizens had three minutes each to pres- ent information and opinions to APC mem- bers, though board president Steve Obert asked them to focus on making useful com- ments and not on feelings. "Your comments are what we can use, your emotions, not so much," he said. Many citizens focused on how wind farms, proposed by Renewable Wind Ener- gy, would affect the county either positive- ly, by bringing in extra money, or negative- ly, by affecting Owensville's doppler radar installation. Thirty-three people spoke from the audience. LARRY MICHEL Larry Michel, of Fort Branch, told APC members he hated that the board had come back to the table only two years after aban- doning zoning. He said wind energy issues had been used as a way to bring zoning. He worried about the impact of zoning on farmers and the wordiness of the ordinance. "If I want to buy a grain bin, I couldn't even order until I got approval...Three- fourths of the language needs to come out of there." DR. DAVID UTLEY Dr. David Utley, a family practitioner from Haubstadt, said wind farms would have provable negative health consequences if allowed to proceed under the terms of their current contracts with landowners. He requested the APC include a 32 dec- ibel maximum noise level at the adjacent property lines, and implement a require- ment of no shadowflicker allowed on any non-participating property line, (instead of making requirements for noise and shad- owflicker that measure at the person's res- idence). MARK ADLER Mark Adler, who said he lives between Haubstadt and Cynthiana on Owensville Road, said he supports zoning after hearing Lion's Den, an adult store, has tried to get property in Gibson County, and that wind energy has taken a hit in Germany, where RWE, the company wanting to wind farm locally, is based. "I have many reasons for supporting zon- ing, but one is the safety of my children, grandchildren, neighbors and friends," he said referring to wind farms and doppler ra- dar. "Gibson County has no means to con- trol them...We need zoning so all can live safely and happily ever after." DENNIS UTLEY Dennis Utley, of Haubstadt, said he is dis- abled and can't sleep well. He said he wor- ried that wind farms might further impede his sleep. He said the industry is still looking into issues with noise and he's concerned about mechanical failure. PAUL SMITH Paul Smith, of Oakland City, said he was surprised zoning was back on the table. "I'm surprised you all have to go through this again," he said. He added he opposes zoning because he believes it will stop cre- ativity, and put liberty and independence at stake. "If rural citizens of Gibson Coun- ty wanted the restrictions, they would have moved to town," he said. He believes the zoning ordinance will re- strict instead of enhance economic growth. "There's no reason we have to have all this." ARVIN SCHURMEIER Arvin Schurmeier, of Fort Branch, said he was concerned about reconstruction of buildings that may be destroyed. He said he sees challenges for farmers if they would have to wait to rebuild structures in order to meet zoning regulations. "What do we do with the livestock? How is this supposed to work? " JOHN GRIGSBY John Grigsby, of Owensville, spoke in fa- vor of wind farming. "I think it would be a great economic de- velopment to the county, especially to the landowners," he said. "To me, it would be a boon to the county." LARRY WEST Larry West, of Owensville, said he had ex- perience with zoning in Hendricks County, and it had cost him $200 per tree to take two trees down because he didn't get a permit, and that he had issues trying to build a ga- rage, and it cost him more than $1,000, re- quiring him to build it the way they wanted. "I went to Vietnam to fight for another country's freedom, and came home to give up my own freedom," he said. "You won't be able to do anything without getting in- to your billfold." SARAH HASENOUR Sarah Hasenour, of Haubstadt, said she spoke on behalf of her brothers, Adam and Aaron Adler, against proposed industrial wind turbines. "Society likes to sneer at our way of life. They like to think that rural equals igno- rant, uneducated, or gullible, but we are none of those things. But we are vulnera- ble because of our lack of protections from profiteers who seek to use us and leave us," she said. She said she worries about irreversible impacts on health and the divisiveness that has come with zoning proposals. "You're still my neighbor and I still care about you...Let's please remember why we're here. Money won't ever love us back." ERIN MAURER Erin Maurer, a 20 -year resident rural Haubstadt, said she is worried that curtail- ment—asking a wind company to stop oper- ations during severe weather—hasn't been proven to work and isn't legally binding. "No growth has threatened my family's life or safety until now," Maurer said. She said she would leave the county if wind tur- bines were built. "How does a non-binding agreement protect our citizens? " she asked, "Does an agreement like this place the de- cisions in the power of the national weath- er service meteorologist or in the power of RWE? " She said she worries about torna- does that might initiate inside the footprint of cluttered radar data. She asked that if a curtailment agreement was made, it be legally binding. SUSAN STRAUB Susan Straub, a 40 -year resident of Haub- stadt, said she was in support of wind farm- ing because it offers renewable energy that she believed would be a legacy to leave to her children. "I like electricity and I'm very concerned the coal plants are shutting down," she said. She also said those who were asking the company to guarantee safety and land val- ues are completely unrealistic. "I don't know where that utopia exists," she said. "Most landowners who leased land to RWE did their due diligence in talking to landowners." She called the money coming into the county a win-win. She also said wind energy should not be discriminated against as a business, and the county should be business friendly. KARSEN RUMPF, RWE DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Karsen Rumpf, development manager for RWE, of Chicago, estimated potential bene- fits at more than $50 million to the county, but said the company is against a require- ment to guarantee property values since it would require them to take on the volatility of the real estate market as a risk. They said that should RWE have to guar- antee values, Toyota, the Duke power plants and other businesses should have to do the same. He called wind farms' impact on property values negligible, and shadowflicker, a flick- ering caused by the shadow of the blades turning, predictable and at about 30 hours per year. He said requesting setbacks at 2.5 times the turbine height is outside what he called an industry standard of 1.1 times. "We're taking this very seriously," he said of doppler radar concerns, adding that there would have been only five to seven days last year that would have required curtailment due to weather. RICHARD STRAUB Richard Straub, of Haubstadt, said many landowners who have signed with RWE fear retaliation, and that the APC needs to stand up for the property rights of locals. He tout- ed the improvements to schools, roads and fire departments where turbines are locat- ed, saying that in other places, people move to areas with turbines because, due to high- er tax revenues, they have better schools. "We need locally-produced clean ener- gy...Don't get caught up in a witch hunt by the GibCo and PoCo people," he said. (Gib- Co refers to Gibson County Property Rights group, and PoCo to the Posey County equiv- alent.) OLIVER ELLEN Oliver Ellen, a development manager for RWE, of Chicago, said Gibson County will benefit by more than $50 million in tax rev- enue, and local unions will have the benefit of 400 to 600 construction jobs. He estimated landowners will receive $ 30 million total over the life of the project. "We know wind farms can mean the dif- ference between selling the family farm and keeping the farm in the family," he said. The current draft of the zoning ordinance would prevent wind farms, he added. TIM GOAD Tim Goad, of Princeton, said the coun- ty has been losing tax base, thanks to coal- based power and Duke Energy reducing force, and that he is for energy alternatives as a way to stay away from the kind of in- consistent energy situations he sees in the third world countries he talks to on ama- teur radio. "If everybody gets this 'I-don't-want-to- shove-it-up-someone-else's-butt' mentality, then where are we going to go?...I am total- ly against zoning in any way shape or form. That's all I have to say." RANDY HALL Randy Hall, of Princeton, said he has lived in other counties with zoning that got to the point where they could not put field tile on the ground without a permit and an inspection. "This is what it can lead to," he said. In those areas, they needed to be bonded to $50,000 to drive on the roads, and get per- mits to cut trees down. Farmers had to pay for a permit to bond where they hauled grain. "It's a nightmare. It's a hassle. It's an un- godly cost," he said. LES KIESEL Les Kiesel, Haubstadt father of six, advo- cated for bigger setbacks than the 1.1 times the height of the turbine that RWE has in- cluded in their leases. "They are the size of the St. Louis arch, that places them a football field away," he said. "Their industry standards are not sci- entifically based." Landowners on three sides of him have verbally committed to wind turbines, he said, and he does not feel that they will be a safe distance from his home or will allow him to build future residences for his fami- ly on his property. "You may be safe in your home, but not in your yard," he said of setbacks measured from residences instead of property lines. KEN MONTGOMERY Ken Montgomery, of Francisco, is a 64-year resident of the county and said he opposes zoning. "I don't want to get a permit to do some- thing on my own property," he said. As far as wind turbines, he said he doesn't believe the county needs zoning to regu- late them. "I'm totally against zoning. If I get in (of- fice), we're going to do something about it," he said, referring to running for county commissioner. KENT MAURER Kent Maurer, of Haubstadt, said he sees advantages on both sides of the zoning ar- gument, but said with leases that have the option to be in place for up to 50 years, lo- cals should consider how different the coun- ty will be 50 years from now, and the oppor- tunity cost of committing 17,000 acres to a long-term project. Looking back 50 years, he said Toyota, for example, was not in the county, and might not have been if the current location had been tied up in long-term leases. According to Maurer, the 25 employees RWE will have jobs for after construction is far less than the 7,000 and growing that Toyota employs. "If that land had been locked up in leas- es, we could have missed out on those op- portunities," he said, adding he believed it would limit growth. KENT SCHELLER USI professor of physics Kent Scheller, of Haubstadt, requested setbacks at 2.5 times the height of the turbines and for a larger setback from the doppler tower. He said the 1.1 times the height of the turbine in the company's leases does not represent what science says about what dis- tance is needed. "They think it's a standard, but it's an out- lier in Indiana," he said, referring to other Indiana zoning ordinances. He requested the company provide the county with an un-redacted look at the anal- ysis they receive on how the turbines will affect doppler and to commit to not build- ing within no-build, mitigation and consul- tation zones. MARK FEHRENBACHER Mark Fehrenbacher, of Fort Branch, said he has no opposition to wind turbines, but does want zoning to prevent what he called objectionable businesses, including liquor stores, gentlemen's clubs and Walmarts. "You have to have zoning to protect your liberty," he said. RITA STONE Rita Stone, of Fort Branch, said she's con- cerned about interference with doppler. On Feb. 28, 2017, she and her husband were told to seek shelter by meteorologist Jeff Lyons, who, with doppler, predicted the storm would hit them at 10 :30 p.m. At 10 :31 p.m., their house and barn sus- tained damaged, but they were safe in the basement, she said. "It must be protected from interference." GARY SEIBERT Fort Branch farmer Gary Seibert said he wanted to live in Gibson County to get away from zoning closer to Evansville. "I've never ever never seen agriculture protected by zoning. It's already protected by right-to-farm laws," he said. "Perhaps we might be the ones who need to be protect- ed from zoning." DENNIS KIESEL Dennis Kiesel, of Poseyville, appealed to the APC to require wind turbines to not in- terfere with Owensville's doppler (which al- so serves Posey County). He also encouraged any agreement with RWE to curtail wind turbines to be legal- ly binding. JEAN BITTNER Jean Bittner, of Haubstadt, said a lack of zoning is restricting what she can do with her property because if wind turbines are allowed based on their proximity to a res- idence instead of property lines, she won't be able to enjoy her whole property. "If we don't protect us, who will? " she asked. In a meeting with RWE, she said con- cerned people asked why they didn't locate the turbines in a place without people, es- sentially the middle of nowhere. "RWE said they consider this to be nowhere." REBECCA BRATTON Rebecca Bratton, of Cynthiana, said it's hard to be a farmer and stay afloat. She sees wind farms as a way to diversify. She said wind farms can shut themselves down in excessive winds, and only a few ex- amples exist of radar being affected by clut- ter. The National Weather Service believes wind farms and doppler can coexist, she said. "Zoning should be separate issue," she said. PAUL WATERS Paul Waters, president of the Economic Development Corporation, said the board recently voted in support of zoning in Gib- son County, with the caveat they would like to see the final ordinance. TERRY UNFRIED Terry Unfried, a retired dentist from Haubstadt, said the best solution was for neighbors to talk with one another rather than have zoning. He said his three-year-old grandson wants to live in the country, fish and raise crops, and doesn't care about development. "Those of us residing in rural areas...rely more on ourselves and neighbors," he said. "Amazingly, it's worked for 200 years." JOSH OREM Josh Orem, a Posey County attorney, brought a property value study done by E.ON, the company that currently oper- ates as RWE. While the company had mentioned nu- merous studies saying there was no rela- tionship between property values and wind farms, they weren't, he said, citing their own study done by the E.ON Energy Research Center, finding that wind farms have "sig- nificant impacts" on property values. He said that the zoning ordinance, as written, allows a company not requesting a tax abatement to circumvent those proper- ty value issues. He said he had suggestions for amend- ments to the ordinance and provided those to the APC members. BOB SCHLETER Francisco grandfather Bob Schleter said he thinks wind turbines are a good source of renewable energy if implemented proper- ly, and doesn't think zoning is the answer to preventing them if they were going to be prevented. He said he's concerned that once enact- ed, zoning can become something differ- ent from what the APC passes, and will in- crease the cost of building. MIKE SCHLETER Mike Schleter, of Francisco, is against zoning. "I'm living my dream right now. I got mar- ried. I have a newborn on the way," and he said he's doing a lot of work on his house himself; that might cost more with zoning. "I'm still against it. With the turbines, I don't care. If I see something in the dis- tance, I choose to ignore it." DAVE MCKINNEY Dave McKinney, of Francisco, lived in Vanderburgh County and came to Gibson to get away from zoning, he said. He believes the cost to hire people will be a long-term expense for the county. "If possible, I'd like to see you stop zon- ing," he said. He also asked the board to hire fewer lawyers, (three were hired at the cur- rent meeting). McKinney was stopped twice from voic- ing complaints that called out specific peo- ple in Gibson County government. BEVERLY ADLER Beverly Adler, of Haubstadt, spoke on be- half of sons Adam and Aaron, who suffer from a seizure disorder. She said she was told they needed familiar surroundings and said change is stressful for them. She's concerned about land leased for wind farming 300 feet from her home, that it will upset the balance of their lives and start a string of life-changing events that could include more seizures. "Will it? I don't know, but I can't take that chance," she said. "I don't think any of us would want to take on the zoning ordinance if we could do it any other way." NEXT MEETINGS Feb. 18 —1 p.m. to 4 p.m., North Annex, Working Meeting Feb. 19 — 6 p.m., Toyota Events Center at fairgrounds, Public Comment Meeting, to speak sign up before meeting Feb. 28 —1 p.m. to 4 p.m., North Annex, Working Meeting SUBSCRIBE TODAY! We're not afraid to shed some light on the truth. 812-354-8500

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