Friday, June 1, 2007

Incredibly Shortsighted: Our Community at Risk

The following letter was first submitted to the Hays Daily News by Jerry Green, a resident of Hays and Ellis County, Kansas:

The proposed wind farm will create long-term care problems for Ellis County and is incredibly shortsighted.

This will hurt future economic development in the county and will damage our quality of life. The wind farm LLC has billions of dollars of assets and can afford multiple defeats. If they lose this battle, you can expect that the fight will continue until they prevail. As a county, we can afford only one loss.

Years ago, I joined with others to fight the location of a lead smelter in Ellis County. The proponents of the smelter, including the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, The Hays Daily News, the city of Hays, etc, tried to convince people that it was only a local issue and not an economic and/or health issue. Like the proponents of the smelter, supporters of the wind farm are framing this issue precisely the same. The truth has not been accurately presented. This is a county wide problem with serious long-term consequences for Ellis County.

I spoke with one of the city’s largest employers, whose local attorney would not represent them in attempting to stop the windmills. This employer stated that they would not locate their business in Hays today if there was a wind farm. In this battle, we face a number of multi-billion dollar limited liability corporations that seemingly change names daily. When these towers are decommissioned, which LLC (the one with assets and/or repair these towers?

How can our county afford this high cost? Every citizen of Ellis County shares this liability and all our families are at risk. Proponents of the wind farm have failed to address the serious economic problems which could arise from the wind farm.

Setting aside the economic and environmental problems, the 380-foot towers on top of 200-foot hills will represent visual pollution of a staggering nature.

Imagine what 135 seemingly 60-story metal monstrosities will look like from most points in Ellis County. Consider what these sky scraping towers look like at night with blinking lights covering them. We will have urban sprawl without any of the advantages. The economic development coalition and the windfarm LLC are touting the 15 possible new jobs as an “economic boon.” Is this not ridiculous? A small lawn service company would provide more jobs.

This array of giant windmills might offer a photo opportunity for politicians seeking votes and redemption for their carbon footprint but would otherwise be distasteful. Will future companies want to locate here and, more importantly, will our children and grandchildren want to reside here?

I do not believe that the wind blows any less 15 or 20 miles away from this population center. Why can this development not be moved 15 or 20 miles? The idea of a 1,000-foot set-off from adjoining property owners on structures of this magnitude is obscene.

Five miles would be more realistic set-off and would be implemented if we had a zoning board that could have made that call.

The farm would not locate here without county-wide zoning (which provides them liability protection.) I am starting to understand why a vote on countywide zoning was not allowed in Ellis County.

...With an issue of this magnitude the weight of this decision should not rest upon three people.

I do not believe that it is ethical to ask us to degrade our environment and place our community at risk.

Contact your county commissioners .

Jerry Green
Hays, Kansas
May 2007

To contact your county commissioners, call (785) 628-9410 and ask to speak to Perry S Henman, 1st District, Dennis J Pfannenstiel, 2nd District, or Vernon L Berens, Chairman, 3rd District. Or you can write to your commissioner to express your concern about the wind farm, addressing your letter to 1204 Fort Street, Hays, Kansas. Additionally, you may attend any county commission meeting and ask to address the group to express your concerns. The meetings are public meetings. The Board of Ellis County Commissioners meets in Regular Session at 8:45 a.m. every Monday (unless a holiday, then they will meet on Tuesday) in the Commission Room at the Courthouse, 1204 Fort Street, Hays, Kansas.

To Sign the Petition:
If you are an Ellis County, Kansas, resident and you wish to support a petition to request a moratorium on granting permissions to the wind farm rezoning, and to stop it, at least temporarily, from being constructed next to Hays, Kansas, you can follow this link and leave your name, real address, and a single comment about your support of this petition. Click here now!

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