Letter: Speak up against siting regulations
Attention planning and zoning commissioners and all residents across the state of Connecticut. There is an important public hearing on July 24 at 3 p.m. at the Siting Council offices in New Britain. And if you care about local town control and protecting your individual property rights you will be there.
If the Connecticut Siting Council has its way soon you will have the opportunity to have a 500-foot tall industrial wind turbine and many others beside it only a mere 550 feet from your property. And there will not be a thing you can do about it, other than to suffer from the constant noise, shadow flicker (sun rising and setting trough the spinning blades), and severely reduced property values, after all would you buy a home next to such an industrial monstrosity?
In fact, current law says that any industrial size wind turbine greater than 1 megawatt of energy is the call of the Siting Council and not that of your local planning and zoning commissioners. If that doesn’t get your Yankee dander up I don’t know what will. It’s apparent to this Yankee that residents don’t matter as much as developers to our state Siting Council.
From the fall of 2010 to spring 2011 I led a group named Save Prospect Corp., a band of angry neighbors, against a plan to put two of these 500-foot tall monsters right in the middle of a residential area in the town of Prospect. If it had been approved it would have been the most densely populated area for an industrial wind turbine siting in all of America. Fortunately, our evidence and strong spirit caused the Siting Council to deny the developer’s petition, something that has only happened in 3 percent of the applications/petitions before the Siting Council these past 40 years.
Part of our effort was a call for creation of statewide regulations for industrial wind turbines. With the help of our state representative, Vickie Nardello (89th district) and others we were able to get a law passed requiring regulations. As the saying goes however, be careful what you ask for.
The Siting Council created regulations and totally ignored the evidence gathered and presented at great expense (hundreds of thousands of dollars to explain the obvious to the Siting Council) to many neighbors from both Prospect and Colebrook, where by the way the Siting Council approved last year plans for two three-turbine wind farms in residential areas. The Colebrook neighbors are pursuing that action in the courts and vow to go all the way to the Supreme Court if need be.
What the Siting Council chose to do in response to the new law was to create wind regulations based upon industry favorable siting requirements. States that have accepted development of wind turbines in populated areas are spending much time and money on the effects on neighbors who are truly suffering day to day. I have met with residents from other states (Massachusetts, Maine, Iowa) who have lost all hope, some have even pondered suicide, who can no longer sleep in their homes, but instead camp our in their basements. We found the Cape Cod Planning Commission called for a 3,000-foot setback for turbines, and much of Europe is now calling for a mile or more, yet the resident-deaf council members have decided that 1.1 times the height of a turbine is sufficient.
So imagine having the Statue of Liberty right next to your house, times three. That wouldn’t be so bad since it doesn’t move, make noise, and is inspiring. So when it comes to industrial monsters irresponsibly placed I’d have to say that residents don’t matter to the Siting Council.
Also at issue is the problem with infrasound caused by the wind turbines. This is noise that is on a scale below the ability of a human to hear, but how it does affect humans is that it is felt as a pressure. Once the infrasound penetrates homes, the infrasound is amplified. Think of a drum or the bass vibration of the punk’s radio in the car behind you while you are stopped at a light. To address this the Siting Council has asked developers to include reports on the likely emission of infrasound from proposed turbines. The problem is that Connecticut’s own noise standards (last revised in 1978) don’t address infrasound, so there is no standard to measure against. People don’t matter when it comes to infrasound.
The only standard we need to rely on in this fight is your constitutional right to protect your property, combined with your willingness to fight this outrageous assault on Connecticut residents and their local planning and zoning commissioners. I truly hope you all join the angry residents of Prospect and Colebrook at the Siting Council public hearing in New Britain on July 24. We need your help to save our state.
Timothy C. Reilly