Property rights: Real or imagined
As resistance to the proposed industrial wind turbine projects grows swiftly across Seneca County, many of the pro-side arguments are falling flat. People have done the math and are realizing the total monetary benefit (all benefits considered on the Republic Wind and Seneca Wind projects combined) amount to less than .45 cents a day for each person in the county. In exchange for .45 cents, we would be transforming a large portion of our county into an industrial zone with 120 spinning machines 600 feet tall with all their documented negative effects to people and the landscape. The costs vs. benefits scale is totally out of balance. That .45 cents includes all tax benefits to schools, townships and county. It includes all payments to landowners for hosting turbines. And it includes all the wages for the new permanent jobs predicted by the wind companies to run and maintain the projects.
But, as out of balance as the cost vs. benefit scale is, the one argument that those who still are proponents put forth is the landowner’s rights to do what they wish with their property. But are those rights real or imagined? I am a landowner, too, and if I wanted to build a monster structure on my property, I would have to go to my township zoning board and ask permission. It then would notify my neighbors of my intentions and, based on their feedback, either give me permission to build or refuse permission. I do not have the “right” to build such a thing because of local zoning. I have to ask permission and my neighbors have to agree. Now, if I sign up with a wind company and they get permission from the state, then they override local zoning and can build. But the state has not given me the right to build, they have given it to the wind company. I still don’t have the right. It would seem that somehow in the promotion of these projects, the wind companies have managed to enlist the landowners to argue for protecting the rights of the wind companies. And it also appears they have enlisted some of our county commissioners to do so as well, along with also advocating for protecting the wind companies’ rights to tax breaks. These people have been enlisted unknowingly by some of the slickest salesmen on earth. Other counties in northwest Ohio have had it happen to them as well and have vowed to never let it happen again.
We must not let this situation destroy the neighborliness of our county. The wind companies are practiced experts in the art of using people (politicians and landowners) to help with their efforts when they move in to exploit an area. And have no doubt that exploitation is what they are all about. Even people at the highest level of business (such as Warren Buffet) say wind projects make no sense at all, except that they generate a lot of tax credits and that is why they build a lot of them. That kind of business decision at the top results in areas like ours being exploited and neighbors being turned against neighbor. They multiply the .45-cent pittance offered to us by 30 years to magnify it into significance. They make billions while we live with the imposing robotic monster machines. But the people and leaders of our community are waking up to the situation. Let’s hope that enough of them do before it is too late.