Ohio Farm Bureau: living in the country is a working zone-not peaceful one!

As an increasing number of Hardin County residents are waking up to the fact that the county is a designated Alternative Energy Zone in which tax abatement to Everpower is automatic, there is increasing pressure on the County Commissioners to rescind the designation. (Van Wert DID this last year, AFTER their 1st wind zone experience!!)

A press report from the Kenton Times indicates that the Commissioners did not fully understand the impacts of their decision to establish an AEZ.  It appears that the Farm Bureau’s Dale Arnold has been actively engaged in the discussion as he tries to equate “wind farming” with agriculture. “ But Arnold said neighbors are reminded when they move out to the country that they are not entering a residential area. “This is a business and working zone.”    Well, actually no, it isn’t.  A rural residential area is a place where people live and some of them farm or lease their land for farming.   In order to develop wind in Ohio, the law had to the pre-empt the zoning that protected people living in the country.  Sadly, the inadequate setbacks successfully negotiated by the wind developers meant that when local zoning was pre-empted, residents were left with next to no protection at all.   When people move out to the country they don’t expect that – nor should they.

Similar “awakenings” are happening in other places, too.  We noted, in our blog earlier in the week, in a story from Kokomo, Indiana that thousands of citizens awakened to an E.ON project planned for Howard County after hearing from neighboring Grant County elected officials. “Brock said county officials have been misled by E.ON when asking about potential drawbacks to wind turbines, such as decreased property values, safety and noise levels. “I was 100 percent, maybe 110 percent in favor of wind farms when I was approached,” he said. “I voted in favor of it. However, after my own research and after being misled on a number of issues, I’m very much opposed to them.”

In Ireland,  many landowners are stuck with lease options that remain in effect even though changes in government policy may mean that the wind farms will not be built. The Ireland Law Society says “the lease options negotiated by energy companies could still have serious long-term consequences for farming families.”   The Law Society is calling upon the Irish Farmers Association (our Farm Bureau equivalent) to help leaseholders renegotiate their leases. The Law Society states that farmers did not realize they were giving away the rights to do what they wish with their land for 30 years or more. Moreover, farmers believed that income from the leases was farm income.  “Ms. Fagan also warned that the income from the wind farm leases – the bulk of them initially for five-year periods – will be treated as commercial income and not farm-related income. “Many farmers have received a payment of €1,000 from wind farm companies for the execution of the option over their farm. These payments are fully taxable and do not qualify as income that can be set off against ordinary agricultural reliefs. Their net benefit after tax relative to the personal restrictions they impose on the farmer is questionable,” she said.”

We can’t help remarking on the irony that the Farm Bureau who continues to confuse industrial wind development with agricultural endeavors has actually encouraged everyone from well- meaning rural people to county commissioners to “major Democratic campaign donors” to “bet the farm” All across the world people are waking up to the consequences of a bad bet….

Kenton Times April 23, 2014

 County can’t alter plans for wind farm: FB official 

The Hardin County commissioners were told Tuesday afternoon they have no power to make changes regarding the Scioto Ridge Wind Farm project.

Fight The Wind, a group opposing development of the wind farm in southern Hardin and northern Logan counties, has encouraged commissioners to alter or eliminate tax incentives which make financing of the wind farm possible. But since the Payment In Lieu of Taxes  (PILOT) program and the Alternative Energy Zone (AEZ) were in force when EverPower received its permit from the Ohio Power Siting Board, those would be grandfathered in as rules previously established, according to Dale Arnold, an energy official with the Ohio Farm Bureau….

However, Scioto Ridge Wind Farm Development Manager Jason Dagger said having the AEZ in place does not prohibit cooperation between the energy service provider and the community…

“We’re very distressed,” Elliott said. “We think the setback should be at each person’s property line, not at the foundation.” Commission Chair Brice Beaman added, “We feel people should be able to enjoy their complete property.” Michael Shepherd, one of the organizers of Fight The Wind, said while the flicker rate from the turbine blades may be just 30 hours a year in his home, it will be considerably more elsewhere on his property. He said farmers with wind turbines could face lawsuits from their neighbors over the flicker factor.

Arnold agreed it is a difficult situation for property owners in all energy matters. “Striking a balance is going to be huge, not just for wind, but oil and gas and biomass,” he said. But Arnold said neighbors are reminded when they move out to the country that they are not entering a residential area. “This is a business and working zone,” he said.

County can’t alter plans for wind farm: FB official | Kenton Times.