Opposition to wind farm remains steady

Signs in opposition to the Osborn Wind Energy Center building, a wind farm in Clinton and DeKalb counties, can be seen on U.S. Highway 36. An action has been filed in DeKalb County Circuit Court that questions the method of applying for permits for the work being done for the project.

Residents of Clinton and DeKalb counties who don’t want a modern wind farm in their backyards say they have no plans to abandon their positions.

Despite early moves toward construction, detractors of the Osborn Wind Energy Center continue to marshal their forces — even resorting to legal means in a bid to halt the project.

An action filed in DeKalb County Circuit Court in late April seeks to derail the farm by calling into question the method of applying for permits that sanction the work.

Opponents have formally organized under one umbrella against the work, but there are other residents of both counties who are singly outspoken about the Osborn farm.

Kyle Carroll, of Maysville, Missouri, — who’s not part of the group — said those contrary to the plan have a list of concerns that include damage to roads by heavy trucks and the switch from the basic pastoral aesthetics the towering turbines would bring to their corner of Northwest Missouri. The long-held joys of a rural lifestyle would be diminished, he said. One man said he moved to the area for its peace and quiet.

“It changes the landscape permanently,” Carroll said, adding residents believe the area would be transformed into an electric substation. “I’d really hate to see it happen. ... The thing’s a long way from being decided.”

There also are worries over absentee ownership that would result from land being bought up by out-of-state interests to facilitate the construction.

“I think a lot of people have health concerns” and also are disturbed over possible consequences the hardware might have to livestock, Carroll said.

Clinton County is zoned, he said, and that has allowed officials to take something of a more measured approach in studying the plans. The company’s first steps to build the DeKalb County portion of the complex have been undeterred, he added, since zoning there is largely absent with a township form of government.

The organization — dubbed Concerned Citizens For The Future of Clinton and DeKalb counties — is striving to better educate themselves and their neighbors on the wind farm’s effects. Glenn Dyer, of Stewartsville, Missouri, said members of the organization continue to meet separately per their county. Much of the impacted population has come out against the farm, he said.

“We’ve been organized about six months,” he said. “We’re pretty spirited. We’re trying to save the communities. It’s a lot of resistance.”

NextEra Energy, based in Florida, confirms it is taking the initial steps to prepare the facility.

“We’re building roads,” spokesman Steve Stengel said. “I believe our temporary office is in. Things are going as planned.”

Stengel said a late 2015 lawsuit NextEra filed against a DeKalb County township, compelling action to approve regulations for the project, has been withdrawn.

He said the company is willing to discuss objections with opponents. But he labeled the court action as without merit.

“Our view is pretty straightforward,” he said. “We followed all the rules. We will continue to follow all of the rules. We believe this is a frivolous lawsuit.”

If the suit manages to move through the legal system, then NextEra is prepared to defend its purpose, according to Stengel. All issues raised by the opposition have been fully aired “more than a few times” in public forums, he said.

“We are always open to talking to people about their concerns,” he said. “That’ll continue for the life of the project.”

Foundations for the turbines are set to be laid in early summer, with the units themselves to arrive later on in the season.

Osborn Wind Energy Center is slated to help supply resources for the Kansas City Power & Light electrical grid in the region.

Both of the circuit court files were later moved to the jurisdiction of Daviess County.


MAY 11 2016
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