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Property rights concerns raised

Concerned about the possible effects of proposed wind power legislation on their property rights, some Fredericksburg area landowners have voiced opposition to a bill by State Senator Troy Fraser that would allow the Gillespie County Commissioners' Court to restrict wind farm construction. "Once the bill was filed, the phones started lighting up." Fraser said. "We need to gauge both support and opposition."

Concerned about the possible effects of proposed wind power legislation on their property rights, some Fredericksburg area landowners have voiced opposition to a bill by State Senator Troy Fraser that would allow the Gillespie County Commissioners' Court to restrict wind farm construction.

"Once the bill was filed, the phones started lighting up." Fraser said. "We need to gauge both support and opposition."

Fraser said he had been under the impression that support was widespread for Senate Bill 1226 which would let the commissioners' court have a final say on any wind farm construction.

After his office began receiving negative feedback from local landowners, Fraser sent a letter, asking Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher to hold a public meeting on property rights and wind farm regulation.

Stroeher said he was surprised by the opposition and had only heard negative feedback from "about four or five people."

"If people don't want that legislation, or if they do want to see those wind farms come in, then we need to know," Stroeher said.

Gillespie County has been ranked 20th out of 25 potential wind producing areas in the state by a report by the Electric Reliability... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Concerned about the possible effects of proposed wind power legislation on their property rights, some Fredericksburg area landowners have voiced opposition to a bill by State Senator Troy Fraser that would allow the Gillespie County Commissioners' Court to restrict wind farm construction.

"Once the bill was filed, the phones started lighting up." Fraser said. "We need to gauge both support and opposition."

Fraser said he had been under the impression that support was widespread for Senate Bill 1226 which would let the commissioners' court have a final say on any wind farm construction.

After his office began receiving negative feedback from local landowners, Fraser sent a letter, asking Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher to hold a public meeting on property rights and wind farm regulation.

Stroeher said he was surprised by the opposition and had only heard negative feedback from "about four or five people."

"If people don't want that legislation, or if they do want to see those wind farms come in, then we need to know," Stroeher said.

Gillespie County has been ranked 20th out of 25 potential wind producing areas in the state by a report by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and Stroeher said he was aware of two wind farm companies that showed interest in local construction in 2007.

In December 2007, the commissioners' court filed a resolution opposing wind farms, but Stroeher said that resolution lacked any actual enforcement power.

"Right now, there's nothing we can do to stop that, so that's why we contacted Sen. Fraser to get help," Stroeher said.

Fraser then decided to introduce a bill that would allow the court to restrict or altogether ban wind farm construction in the county.

But some landowners see the legislation as a violation of property rights.

"This is not a wind power issue," said Robert Dittmar, who lives in Kerrville and owns land in Gillespie County. "We who own property know that our rights extend to our fence line -- we should be able to decide what is going on on our property."

Dittmar said he has heard opposition from many landowners and has spoken with four or five landowners about starting a group called the Private Property Rights Coalition.

Dittmar said the group would likely try to help organize and educate landowners on their rights and might at some point address Sen. Fraser or the Gillespie County Commissioners' Court.

Though Stroeher has not directly heard much opposition to Fraser's bill, he said Fraser told him that his office had received numerous complaints.

"That's the way legislation works," Fraser said. "If you want to find out how people feel, file a bill. If there is opposition, that opposition will show up."

The Gillespie County Commissioners will meet Monday at 9 a.m. for their regular meeting but will not address the wind farm issue, Stroeher said.

A public meeting would likely be called by the county, Stroeher said, and will potentially be scheduled during the evening early in April.

The commissioners have not yet met on the issue but have discussed opposition voiced by some landowners.

A second bill by Fraser, Senate Bill 1227, would allow counties that do not want local wind farm construction to register with the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Wind farm companies would then be required to check this list before building new projects and acknowledge to local officials that they have done so.

Additionally, though S.B. 1226 specifically gives regulation power only to Gillespie County, the Llano County Commissioners' Court passed a resolution on March 9 supporting similar legislation.


Source: http://www.fredericksburgst...

MAR 18 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19529-property-rights-concerns-raised
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