Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 29, 2013

May 29, 2013: Letter to the editor

Turbine opponents: Here’s some advice

Would those protesting the wind farms remember that they do not own the view out their windows? That’s another person’s land down the road. They have the right to improve it if they follow the rules.

Just because you do not like what your neighbor proposes building does not give you a veto over his land. Nor does filling a hearing room with your friends and neighbors make you a majority empowered to demand the officials run roughshod over the rights of your neighbor down the road.

The officials you are speaking to always have three audiences in any land use issue. There are the petitioners seeking to change something; their neighbors who will have to live with any changes; and the greater community. All have their rights and needs, which require respect and consideration.

Protesters wanting to influence officials need to organize. Nothing will alienate officials faster than their listening to a crowd for hours where the speakers keep repeating the same statements in slightly different wording.

Have a spokesperson or two make an organized presentation. They can ask for supporters to stand or raise their hands. If this is a second hearing on the matter, then summarize your previous statements and present any new information you may have found.

The protesters need to present facts and not rumors or fears. Large wind turbines have been around for a couple decades. Someone somewhere should have studied the wind farm’s community impact after a couple years of wind farm operations using scientific methods and published their findings in a peer reviewed journal.

Yet, several organizations have reported searching for such a study and not finding any. Similarly, reporters (and their supporting editors) from a local or regional newspaper serving the wind farm’s area should have published articles reporting on the community effects of the wind farm, now that the community has lived with them for several years. They could interview some of the wind farm protesters to see if they had had any of the health issues they claimed would be caused by wind farms. They could interview local health departments, Realtors, and school administrators for evidence of harm from the wind farm. Just remember that anything published without the benefit of professional editorial review is suspect.

Keep in mind officials do not have a magic wand hidden somewhere. They cannot bring it out, wave it and make your problem go away. Land use law has been fought over for well over a century by legislators and in the courts. Making changes to the laws takes time and must follow specific procedures.

Making changes after someone has filed a proposal for something permitted and the community decides they would rather not see is not permitted under Indiana law. You can change the law for future petitioners, just not for the current ones.

Still, if the protesters are really committed, they could just file a proposal for amending the county zoning ordinance. You will need to prepare a specific proposal, fill out an application, pay any filing fees, pay the advertising costs, distribute any hearing notices, and show up at the public hearing to present your case. Just remember that state and federal law and court decisions may require changes to your proposal, and others can propose other changes at the public hearing.

If all else fails, plant some trees between you and the wind turbines. Eventually, they will grow to block your view of the wind turbines. If enough of you plant enough trees, you may even create enough wind turbulence to render the area unsuitable for wind turbines.

Glen Boise