I was surprised to receive in Monday's mail a heartfelt letter from proponents of the wind energy development pleading for public support - all five of them (in contrast to OUR 100 families).
Why now, one week before the zoning board votes, why not several years ago when they began planning this project? Could it be they are worried that public support for their project is sagging? At least they have had the courage to finally step forward and be publicly recognized as the would-be profiteers - mostly three extended families who will receive more than 80% of the turbines and the financial gain from this project. Some quotes from the letter are quite astonishing. We are told that the project deserves support because it will:
"Protect our quality of life… help preserve our county's aesthetics and rural character."
Really? Consider that more than 100 families feel terrorized by this project and now live in daily fear of their peaceful rural environment being forcibly industrialized. These residents are convinced that their quality of life will be destroyed, just so a few people can make a lot of money without regard for their neighbors' peace of mind or diminished property values.
How on earth do 140 towers, each 400 feet tall, with flashing lights and continuously spinning blades the size of a 747, constitute a preservation of rural aesthetics? The whole southern half of Hays will never see a normal prairie sunset again, but rather one that flickers through the spinning blades and flashing lights of a long line of giant egg-beaters cluttering the horizon. During 6-8 months of construction, we will be subjected to heavy vehicles that will cover us in dust, congest traffic, and damage our roads and bridges. I will be afraid to walk my dog or even let my cats out.
"Provide millions of dollars in economic activity…"
Really? This has not been the experience of other communities. Wind farm developers import most of their labor and equipment and minimize all local expenditures. Very few permanent jobs are created, and half of these go to trained technicians from elsewhere. The annual donation to the county amounts to an unsecured bribe, and an insultingly small one in comparison to others. There certainly are millions of dollars involved though - all of them our tax dollars going straight into the pockets of a big Spanish company in the form of massive subsidies.
"Produce clean, renewable energy…"
Really? Is it clean? Wind power is not clean - it is a very expensive way of producing unreliable, intermittent electricity. It is considered by many a form of environmental vandalism that scars vast tracts of land, destroys scenery and view-sheds, and diminishes property values, all without replacing a single conventional power generation facility. It is a big 'greenwash' scam being perpetrated on taxpayers by big corporations invested in oil, gas, and other forms of power generation who are not just harvesting our tax dollars, but also betting they will be able to raise the price of our electricity in a year of two. As far as powering 60,000 households, how many households would want to depend on the wind blowing 30 mph before they can cook dinner or turn on their air conditioning?
Another development is the resignation of Lance Russell from the zoning board - as if that could possibly exonerate him from years of conflict of interest in engineering this deal. It is common knowledge that he and another former zoning board member were instrumental in inviting CPV to Hays in order get this project sited on their family's land. They made sure that new zoning regulations were as 'wind farm friendly' as possible - all 1 ½ pages of them.
It is all a matter of public record. The same regulations limiting residents to 2 ½ story buildings allow monstrous towers 40 stories high with massive spinning blades and flashing lights to be placed a mere 1000 feet from people's homes. This project has driven a wedge into this community and damaged many long term friendships.
Legal irregularities abound in this process that will certainly come to light in any lawsuit. There have been two rounds of legal notifications regarding the conditional use permit and yet numerous affected residents have yet to receive one. The permit application was submitted by CPV, rather than by the landholders themselves as law dictates. Permission slips were later obtained by CPV to cover the discrepancy. There are no signs posted around the proposed area as recommended by law.
There is still no legal description of the affected area available for public viewing in the county zoning office, as required by law. The actual boundaries are still in question. Black boxes with sound meters are being placed by our roadsides without any of the permits required for such listening devices.
We are all left with many questions.
Who is going to protect the safety of our homes, families and quality of life as our own zoning regulations clearly mandate?
1189 180th Avenue
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