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July 17, 2013

July 17, 2013: Letters to the editor

These are not your grandpa’s windmills

The Howard County zoning ordinance spells out guidelines that development must supposedly follow. The ordinance states, “It is only when a property owner decides to make changes that a zoning ordinance applies.”

Wouldn’t you consider an industrial wind installation a change to a quiet farming area?

We believe anyone would see it differently if it was to be in his own backyard. We don’t believe they belong in anyone’s backyard. But large wind energy isn’t in the special exception category. This allows construction of turbines without notifying anyone who might live nearby.

Here are some of the ways utility-scale wind development is outside the allowed land use:

• Safety from fire — local fire departments are unable to combat blazes that are nearly 500 feet in the air, and 10-ton blades can be thrown 100 yards.

• Health — inability to sleep due to turbine noise, inner ear disturbance, vertigo, tinnitus.

• General safety — there’s danger to all in close proximity to large wind turbines. One turbine manufacturer recommends workers not stay within 1,300 feet unless necessary. What about children playing outside?

• Comfort — shadow flicker and reflected glare that necessitate covered windows.

• Convenience — interruptions in TV, cellphone and Internet signals.

You can put lipstick on a pig, but that won’t make it beautiful. A rustic countryside with charming simplicity doesn’t bring to mind 475-foot wind turbines.

The agricultural/industrial zoning district is established for commercial and industrial uses directly related to agriculture and compatible with rural/agricultural areas. Wind turbines do not meet this criteria.

Under the heading “Questionable Land Use, it’s stated, “Allow a special exception use only when it is clearly a benefit to the adjacent properties.” The Intense Agricultural District development standards “Recognize the need for quality time, place and manner development standards to minimize impacts on adjacent residential properties.”

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