Erie, Huron county residents gather to voice concerns over proposed large-scale wind farm project

BELLEVUE, Ohio (WTVG) - Whether with yard signs, posters or t-shirts people in Erie County are making their stance on wind turbines clear.

"Why would you interrupt our quiet, rural landscape?," said resident Dennis Schreiner.

Many people are upset with plans by Apex Clean Energy to build what's being called the Emerson Creek Wind Project in parts of Huron and Erie counties. Tuesday, they gathered in Bellevue to make sure leaders got the message.

"We're concerned, obviously, with the aesthetics—the looks of 600 foot towers in the area," said resident Walt Poffenbaugh.

Under the project roughly 71 turbines would be built in the mostly rural area. That large number has lots of people worried about property values.

"We just think that's going to change the residential, agricultural landscape," said Schreiner.

"If the property values go down the tax rate's going to go down," added Poffenbaugh.

Residents also voiced concerns about the potential impact on the environment and health. Those behind the project say, however, that bringing in turbines will only benefit the community.

“A project like this brings in a significant number of jobs, especially up front during construction," said Nate Pedder with Apex Clean Energy. "A lot of money would be going to the schools, the county, towards the townships and a variety of other services that the community needs."

With project plans still under review Erie County leaders say they'll take a stance that benefits residents.

"[Residents] probably will have a pretty good sway [on] how we go through with something like this," said Erie County commissioner Steve Shoffner. "We’re just still trying to gather as much information as we can.”

At a time when concerns are high those who are against big wind say they're thankful leaders care and hope they fight for their communities.

"We're glad that they're listening, and they have the hard decision to make one way or the other," said Poffenbaugh.

No matter how commissioners sway the decision to allow large-scale wind farms comes from state regulators. Apex Clean Energy expects an announcement to come from Columbus sometime in the fall.