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Neighbors tilt at plan for wind turbine

Curt and Christine Mann are renovating their Grant Park house to make it green to the nth degree. They're recycling wood, installing airtight foam insulation and solar lighting, and capturing gray water to flush toilets. But what sets the Manns apart from other enviro-conscious families is their plan to install a device not seen in any other Atlanta neighborhood - a 45-foot wind turbine. When the turbine's three 6-foot blades spin, electricity will be generated to help power the home. The Manns say the planned wind tower in their yard shows a commitment to rely less on fossil fuels and help curb global warming. "We're just trying to walk the talk," Christine Mann said. They're also testing the limits of green tolerance in Grant Park, a historic neighborhood near Turner Field and Oakland Cemetery that's considered liberal and environmentally aware. Opponents say the tower, which received a permit from the city, will be nothing more than a giant yard ornament on a street where old houses have been lovingly preserved.

Curt and Christine Mann are renovating their Grant Park house to make it green to the nth degree. They're recycling wood, installing airtight foam insulation and solar lighting, and capturing gray water to flush toilets.

But what sets the Manns apart from other enviro-conscious families is their plan to install a device not seen in any other Atlanta neighborhood - a 45-foot wind turbine.

When the turbine's three 6-foot blades spin, electricity will be generated to help power the home.

The Manns say the planned wind tower in their yard shows a commitment to rely less on fossil fuels and help curb global warming.

"We're just trying to walk the talk," Christine Mann said.

They're also testing the limits of green tolerance in Grant Park, a historic neighborhood near Turner Field and Oakland Cemetery that's considered liberal and environmentally aware.

Opponents say the tower, which received a permit from the city, will be nothing more than a giant yard ornament on a street where old houses have been lovingly preserved.

"Do we want to turn historic Grant Park into a proving ground for residential wind energy?" asked tower opponent Scott Herzinger in an e-mail to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Curt and Christine Mann are renovating their Grant Park house to make it green to the nth degree. They're recycling wood, installing airtight foam insulation and solar lighting, and capturing gray water to flush toilets.

But what sets the Manns apart from other enviro-conscious families is their plan to install a device not seen in any other Atlanta neighborhood - a 45-foot wind turbine.

When the turbine's three 6-foot blades spin, electricity will be generated to help power the home.

The Manns say the planned wind tower in their yard shows a commitment to rely less on fossil fuels and help curb global warming.

"We're just trying to walk the talk," Christine Mann said.

They're also testing the limits of green tolerance in Grant Park, a historic neighborhood near Turner Field and Oakland Cemetery that's considered liberal and environmentally aware.

Opponents say the tower, which received a permit from the city, will be nothing more than a giant yard ornament on a street where old houses have been lovingly preserved.

"Do we want to turn historic Grant Park into a proving ground for residential wind energy?" asked tower opponent Scott Herzinger in an e-mail to neighbors. "Is this an experiment we want to be part of?"

Neighbors have hired a lawyer and filed an appeal of the tower permit with the Board of Zoning Adjustment, which is scheduled to hear their concerns in August. They also hope to tighten the historic district regulations so that wind towers are banned.

Herzinger and others contend Atlanta's winds, which average a little over 9 mph annually, lack the punch that would justify building such a conspicuous structure.

City code allows energy-producing wind devices. But neighbors say there should have been a public hearing before the Urban Design Commission to hash out whether the tower was appropriate in Grant Park.

If the Manns prevail, that will open the door to more odd structures in old Atlanta neighborhoods, said Phil Cutherbertson, president of the Grant Park Neighborhood Association.

"The city is not as committed to historic preservation as we'd like," he said.

Tower opponents have created a Web site - treesyestowersno.org - and put up dozens of stake signs that say, "Trees, yes. Towers, no."

"Hopefully they printed their signs on recycled paper," Curt Mann responded.

"Is it their belief that Grant Park is immune to climate change?"

The Manns acknowledge the wind turbine would be more effective in a larger open space, and that payback could take many years.

Still, "we just feel we're being forward-thinking," Mann said. "Change has to happen. Person by person, house by house."

The cost of the tower, including installation, is about $15,000, according to the retailer, Southern Energy Solutions in Marietta.

The device, which Mann said is no louder than an air conditioning unit, plugs into a house's electric meter. Any excess electricity that's generated is credited to the homeowner and goes to the power grid that serves all residences, thus lessening demand for coal-fired electricity.

Alan Conner, owner of the Dakota Blue restaurant, a neighborhood hangout, supports the Manns' right to do what they want with their property.

"To me, it strikes at the heart of America - individual rights above the rights of the collective," Conner said. "If you don't like the way your neighbors' wind turbine looks, that's just too bad."

Matthew and Amy Coble said they lost the sale of their house next to the Mann property because of the planned tower.

"We've since had two other prospective buyers decline to move forward specifically because of the wind turbine," Matthew Coble said.

Grant Park is a tight-knit community with a diverse population where many houses are just a few feet apart. In 2000, three-quarters of the voters in the precincts that include Grant Park voted for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore over George Bush. Gore went on to star in "An Inconvenient Truth," a documentary about global warming that won an Academy Award this year.

"This is a fairly liberal, left-wing neighborhood," said Gary Juster, who lives next to the Manns and opposes the tower.

"We're not arguing with their intent. It's all a matter of balance."

The Manns are renting a house down the street while their future home undergoes its green transformation. Curt Mann, a former property manager turned developer, frequently bicycles to meetings. But "we're not purists," he said. "I drive an SUV."

Mann is putting together a "conservation village" development of at least 230 homes in south DeKalb County inside I-285 that will include stables, a community organic garden and probably wind turbines.

Some question whether the tower's real purpose is to market that project.

"It appears the only green going on here is the kind generated through sales," said Ed Gilgor, chairman of the neighborhood planning unit that includes Grant Park. NPUs are citizen groups that makes recommendations to the mayor and City Council.

Mann said his family wants the tower to "reduce our carbon footprint," not to market the development.

The tower will be sleek, unlike the ubiquitous wood power poles with sagging lines, he pointed out.

"I'd like to know what architectural style those poles are," Mann said. "A historic preservation policy, to be sound, needs to adapt."



Source: http://www.ajc.com/metro/co...

JUN 26 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/9685-neighbors-tilt-at-plan-for-wind-turbine
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