Questions about noise, tax increases and impact on livestock went largely unanswered Saturday during a meeting about a proposed wind farm in northern Boone County.
E.ON Climate and Renewables, an energy company based in Germany, wants to develop a wind farm on up to 30,000 acres north of Harrisburg. The company says it already has agreements with landowners in the area for over 2,500 acres.
Saturday's meeting brought landowners together to learn more about the project, but few explanations were available. Held in Harrisburg High School’s gym, the meeting was moderated by Northern District Boone County Commissioner Janet Thompson and Harrisburg-area landowner Ashley Ernst.
No one from E.ON Climate and Renewables attended.
Kevin Strawn, 51, said he’s lived in the area his entire life and worries about the impact of the development.
“This affects my family and my area,” Strawn said. “We got some good information here, but there’s still a lot left to be seen.”
Stan Shawver, Boone County director of Resource Management, talked about the changes in county regulations that would be needed for the wind farm to move forward. Current regulations aren’t adequate, he said, but nothing is in place yet to direct such a project.
Based on other wind projects, Shawver said he estimated E.ON would need 15,000 to 30,000 acres. The Planning and Zoning Commission would need to be involved in the approval of any change in land use.
The impact on property values also remains uncertain, said Ryan Lidholm, a real estate agent with Weichert Realtors.
Lidholm recounted a home sale where the buyer backed out after learning of the potential wind farm. The uncertainty of the project made the buyer nervous, he said.
“There were so many unknowns,” Lidholm said. “She wasn’t sure she wanted to build her dream home in Harrisburg.”
The impact of turbine noise also came up at the meeting, with a resident of DeKalb County in northwest Missouri sharing the experience of living between two sets of wind turbines.
Johnnie Walker belongs to the Concerned Citizens of DeKalb County, a group created to educate residents about wind projects such as the Lost Creek and Osborn wind farms in DeKalb.
He said the issues include continuous irritation from the sound of the turbines.
“If I wanted to live near Kansas City International Airport and listen to planes taking off all the time, I would,” Walker said. “There’s a reason I don’t.”
Because the renewable energy developer was not present, questions about contracts, taxes and livestock impact could not be answered.
So far, E.ON has only placed a meteorological tower in the area to collect data on wind conditions and to determine the viability of the project. The tower is on the property of Brent Voorheis, who said he would accept a proposal to place turbines on his property.
Residents were told at the meeting that their questions would be presented to the company at an informational barbecue dinner Wednesday at the Harrisburg Lions Club.