Opponents of the Shirley Wind Farm blasted Brown County's health director Tuesday for saying turbines could not be linked to neighbors' health problems.
Around 40 people attended the Brown County Board of Health meeting Tuesday where they urged Health Director Chua Xiong to reconsider her position and asked board members to look into other ways to shut down the wind farm.
"I’m imploring all of you to fight for me, to fight for my family, as hard as I fought for 22 years (while in military service) for your rights to sit here," said Ben Schauer, who lives in Denmark near the wind farm in the southern part of the county.
The Board in 2014 had declared the turbines emit low-frequency noise that can endanger health. That's believed to be the first time a board of health has issued such a ruling.
But, after months of deliberations, Xiong ruled in December that she lacked scientific evidence to link the wind farm to the illnesses of some people living near it.
Board member Dr. Jay Tibbetts disagrees with Xiong and said Tuesday that he believes her review of evidence was "shortsighted and misguided."
"Hopefully the director will find the wisdom and courage to re-evaluate her position and make the correct decision," he said.
County Supervisor Patrick Evans, who attended the meeting, went as far as saying Xiong's decision was "almost criminal."
"I feel if she acknowledged the problem and doesn't address it, she's derelict in her duties. It's almost borderline misconduct of office. It's almost criminal," Evans said.
Xiong remained quiet through most of the meeting, listening and taking notes on nearly three hours public testimony and board discussion. She broke her silence briefly to indicate she believes people's health problems are real, even though she couldn't link them to the wind farm.
"I understand where everyone is coming from... We're all human beings and of course we understand (the expression concern)," she said.
County Supervisor Richard Schadewald, who is also on the board of health, said he plans to request the full county board take up the issue of studying the wind farm's health impact.
He said ordering the wind farm to shut down would most likely result in a lawsuit, and the county would need evidence linking specific local health issues to the turbines.
"I already know that I don’t want to drop this. I think additional studies have to be done," he said.
Duke Energy Renewables, a North-Carolina company that operates the Shirley Wind Farm, has said repeatedly that sounds produced by the turbines cannot be linked to health problems.
Electricity produced at Shirley Wind Farm can power about 6,000 homes and is sold to Wisconsin Public Service Co.