Wind farm opponents hope for 2-year decision delay

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Opponents of a proposed central Indiana wind farm who say the site is too heavily populated and would harm property values want county officials to delay action on the project for at least two years.

Muncie and Delaware County plan commission chairman Tom Green urged county officials on Thursday to study the impact of existing Indiana wind farms for at least two years before deciding how to regulate them in Delaware County. The commission is scheduled to act June 6 on Green's request.

Kathy Gresh, one of the leaders of a group opposed to the proposed E.ON Climate & Renewables wind farm in eastern Delaware County and western Randolph County, said she's "very pleased" with Green's proposal to delay a decision on the farm.

"That's what we asked to start with — slow down, get the facts, check into everything. I think they're going to do that now. We feel like we have been listened to," she told The Star Press.

County Commissioner Sherry Riggin said E.ON is hoping to build 22 to 29 wind turbines in Delaware County. The project's opponents hope to keep wind farms out of the county by pushing for a 2-mile setback between wind turbines and dwellings — a provision that would leave little or no room for a project.

The plan commission has been considering a 1,320-foot setback, although any regulations adopted by the plan commission are subject to final approval by the county commissioners.

County council member Mike Jones said E.ON has canceled an appearance before the council at which it was scheduled to ask for property tax abatement for the project. He said the council had been poised to "most likely turn it down."

Jones said he lives on the fringe of the proposed wind farm, as does council member Rick Spangler. He said Council President Kevin Nemyer lives "in the heart of it."

E.ON spokesman Matt Tulis declined to comment, saying the company's policy is "not to discuss project specifics at this stage of development."

Jones said any increase in property tax revenues from a wind farm in the county would be offset by a drop in property taxes from homes whose values will drop because of their proximity to towering wind turbines.

Wind farm opponent Jim Leffler said the value of homes in the vicinity of wind farms drops 20 percent to 40 percent and even more in some cases.

Other opponents said the wind turbines' red blinking lights at night to alert passing aircraft to the towering machines' presence would make homeowners feel like there is an emergency vehicle parked outside all night long. Others said the sound of wind turbines operating is irritating and can cause migraines, sleep deprivation and nausea.

"It's the worst, God-awful sound," said Delaware County resident Dave Meranda.

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