Tuesday, March 4, 2008

We need a noise ordinance that is derived from scientifically accepted procedures

This letter is submitted by longtime Ellis County resident, Jacinta Faber:

I came away from last week's zoning commission meeting concerned about the lack of concern shown by our commission when it comes to a noise propagating industry being placed next to people's homes. It seems like 2007 all over again, just when I was hoping we could move into a more enlightened 2008.

A resident presented a proposed wind ordinance to the commission for its consideration. In the proposed ordinance, there are noise limitations (40dBA) for night time.

According to the World Health Organization, a maximum of 30dB(A) for continuous background noise is recommended for healthy sleep. Individual noise events exceeding 45dB(A) should be avoided. The WHO cautions that sustained noise at 45dBA or greater is cause for grave concern.

It is the noise at these levels, which can promote arterial ischemia and coronary incidents. The representative for Iberdrola, a Spanish company seeking to make money off the Hays wind project, stated the wind project was designed to allow for 45dB(A) at night.

Is it any wonder that we are pleading for social justice?

The corporate representative for the Iberdrola responded to this proposed noise limitation by insisting that there will be little noise, saying that the 400-foot turbines are quiet. Earlier this week, she referred to the wind turbine as a lullaby. I guess if your routine is to put your baby to sleep with an Ozzy Osborne heavy metal anthem, the turbine noise at night will be a welcome reprieve from those pesky crickets and hoot owls that have plagued your sleep in the past. If they are as quiet as that company employee contends, Iberdrola should have no problem accepting the noise limits proposed in the noise ordinance.

And Iberdrola would have no need to pay people to accept the good-neighbor agreements, which give them easements for noise levels exceeding 55dBA at night.

Something is very fishy here. If I sign the good-neighbor agreement offered by Iberdrola, I am recognizing and accepting conditions -- noise levels exceeding 55dBA -- which will cause my family and neighbors harm.

The corporate representative said her company did its own noise study last May.

Though Iberdrola has not been forthcoming with the results of that study, I believe that to protect the people of Ellis County we instead need an unbiased, independent, third-party noise study.

Most disconcerting for me is that our zoning commissioners seemed to show skepticism about the need for restricting noise, though it was unclear whether their skepticism extended to restricting noise from any source or restricting noise from only wind turbines.

Though I have expressed some frustration with the zoning commission, I do know that the zoning commissioners are all volunteers who generously give their time -- and I am grateful for their service.

On the other hand, the county commissioners are elected and are paid for their service, and they are ultimately responsible to us for properly accepting, modifying or rejecting proposed ordinances. If our elected county commissioners do not have the expertise or time to develop a meaningful noise ordinance with real teeth, it's time that we hire consultants with expertise in the areas of noise and health.

For our families' health and the responsible future of our county, we must have a noise ordinance derived from scientifically accepted procedures.

This is necessary in order to provide us with a foundation for making sound ethical judgments.

We should not place our children's health in the hands of a wind industry corporate spokesperson, one who is hungry for profits, big on spin and short on facts.

Submitted by:
Jacinta Faber
1540 Yocemento Ave.
Hays, Kansas

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