PAULDING — Much conversation, pro and con, has been generated in Paulding County with a new wind turbine project slated to be built near Grover Hill in Latty Township.
On Monday evening at the Paulding County OSU Extension Office in Paulding Village, about 30-35 people gathered to hear personal testimony for and against the proposed project.
In all, 11 people spoke at the meeting, hosted by the Ohio Power Siting Board, with four speaking against the project and seven supporting it.
Kip Siesel, Toledo, spoke for the Ohio Engineers and said that the project would be an opportunity for them because of job creation and clean energy.
Speaking against windmills, Grover Hill resident Chase Dunderman said that he had been circulating petitions and was “shocked at the responses.”
“I am in opposition, and I was shocked to see the overwhelming response in opposition,” said Dunderman. He said that many of the signers were concerned with, “the way big companies come in and break up small communities ... only a select few landowners benefit from the project.”
Dunderman added, “95% of the homes in our area have signed petitions.”
Supporting Dunderman’s testimony, a Grover Hill resident in Washington Township, Amber Merriman, also spoke of petitions and said that 108 residents, or about 7.8% of the population, have signed. She said that her plans include contacting Roy Klopfenstein, a current commissioner of Paulding County who is running for an Ohio House seat.
“I am asking (Roy) Klopfenstein to call the area an exclusion zone for wind farms in accordance with Senate Bill 52,” said Merriman.
The majority spoke favorably about the project with the biggest support coming from farmers like Kent Eddy, Grover Hill, who said, “I thought they would destroy the land, but they did exactly what they had proposed.” Eddy also spoke of the economic benefit to the local schools and infrastructure.
Speaking as the economic development director of Paulding County, Tim Copsey, said that monies gained from the project benefit “infrastructure, pilot programs, the local libraries, hospitals, local jails, MRDD, mental health organizations, the general funds of villages, OSU Extension, EMS/fire, local police departments, schools” to name a few.
Too, Ben Winans, the superintendent of Wayne Trace Local Schools, said that the wind farms offer benefits to the whole community, and “the (school) district as a whole has been supportive because of the economic impact.”
In all, up to 23 wind turbines producing a maximum total generating capacity of up to 150 MW are proposed for the project. Comprising about 9,600 acres of leased land, the project sits in Latty Township between County roads 131 to the west and 151 to the east, and County Road 72 to the north and Van Wert-Paulding County Line Road to the south.
The public hearing was presided over by the Honorable David Hicks, administrative law judge, with the Ohio Power Siting Board who said that an evidentiary hearing is scheduled for March 2 in Columbus. After that hearing, the siting board will schedule the project for a decision at a monthly board meeting.
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