MANITOWOC - Manitowoc County will join St. Croix, Brown and Kewaunee counties in requesting the State of Wisconsin fund a study on the impact of wind turbines on human health.
“This doesn’t mean you are anti-wind or pro-wind, we are just requesting the State of Wisconsin to do a study, that is all,” Supervisor and County Board Chairman Jim Brey said.
The request stems from claims of wind turbines affecting the health of those who live near wind farms, such as the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County. People have said the wind turbines generate low-frequency sound, which causes headaches, nausea and sleep disruption.
Manitowoc County is home to Broadwind Energy, a manufacturer of wind turbines, which could potentially be affected by a state study.
Supervisor Chuck Hoffman said that while the request for a study may just be the county “spinning its wheels,” he felt there is a need to set guidelines for wind towers and wind farms.
“We need some guidance in getting some parameters set for where this low-frequency noise situation is,” Hoffman said. ”It is going to be a small area of Manitowoc County that these wind towers are going into, and I consider this heavily populated. … I think we need to come up with something that is solid and concrete, and we don’t have the ability at the county level to have somebody that can go up there and say 'This is where those wind mills should be.'”
The county board passed the referendum at the Dec. 20 board meeting with a 20-3 vote. Supervisors Dave Nickels, David Dyzak and Nicholas Muench voted against sending the request. Jack Nasep and Paul Hansen were absent.
Three members of the public spoke about the wind turbine study, including Lee Stefaniak, town chairman of Mishicot.
“My position as town chairman, we get in to protect the health and welfare of our constituents, and in my opinion, if one of them is affected, that is one too many,” Stefaniak said. “All we want is to get the study done and establish some parameters, and I don’t think that is unrealistic.”
The county board also passed a resolution giving authority to County Executive Bob Ziegelbauer to complete the sale of a portion of the Expo Grounds to Meijer for $4.3 million. The sale is expected to go through Dec. 21.
“This resolution basically is just dotting the I and crossing the T,” Supervisor Don Weiss said. “This is just finalizing it and giving authority to those who need to sign the paper to sign the paper.”
The resolution passed with an 18-5 vote. Supervisors Rita Metzger, Randy Vogel, Dave Gauger, Bob Cavanaugh and Hoffman voted against the resolution.
“It was an interesting project, and I am looking forward to it,” Brey said. “I do think the benefits to Manitowoc County are going to be enormous.”
Meijer approached Manitowoc County in December 2015 with an unsolicited offer to purchase 28.4 acres of the Expo Grounds. The board approved the offer in January 2016. The money from the sale will be used for maintenance and capital improvement projects for the remaining Expo Grounds.
“Not only will this sale make the entire Expo facility viable for the foreseeable future, but we welcome a new business that will be active in our county,” Brey said in a November press release. “In addition to their facility adding to the tax base, there is the potential to create 300 new jobs. We welcome Meijer with open arms.”
After the sale, the county plans to replace the grandstand with an alternate entertainment area and to find new parking options for the County Fair in August.