By LOU WILIN
STAFF WRITER

In a decision that pleased Crystal Avenue residents, Findlay officials on Thursday denied One Energy’s request to allow construction of 400-foot wind turbines nearby.

The city zoning appeals board voted 3-1 Thursday to deny a variance that would have allowed One Energy to build one or two 400-foot wind turbines on 37 acres southeast of the intersection of Crystal and Bigelow avenues.

The turbines would supply energy to Veoneer-Nissin Brake Systems, a factory at 1750 Production Drive.

Findlay zoning laws set a 40- to 100-foot limit on wind turbines.

The wind turbine proposal’s next stop could be the Findlay City Planning Commission, which likely would reject the current plan for the towering wind turbines.

The other tall wind turbines that One Energy has built near Findlay — serving Ball Corp., Valfilm and Whirlpool Corp. — are in Allen Township, which has no zoning laws.

One Energy and the Hengsteler family of Colorado, who owns the 37-acre site, had hoped a turbine size variance might improve their chances of winning planning commission approval.

They have been maneuvering for months to obtain government approval. They may eventually challenge the city in Hancock County Common Pleas Court.

“We will have to evaluate our other legal recourses to resolve this,” said Jereme Kent, One Energy chief executive officer, after the meeting.

One Energy and the Hengsteler family have wound their way through a zoning rejection by the Marion Township trustees; then annexation of the property to Findlay; and a bid to win city zoning permission for the wind turbines.

All the while, Crystal Avenue residents have denounced the planned wind turbines as an eyesore which would sink their property values and flicker shadows into their homes.

On Thursday, they also expressed concern for their health.

David Burns of 2740 Crystal Ave. said he has a $100,000 medical device implanted in his body to block chronic pain. The wind turbines would disrupt the device, he said.

“If I turn (the device) off, my pain comes back. … It’s not really an option to turn it off,” he told the zoning appeals board. “My only other option would be to move, and I shouldn’t have to move.”

Other Crystal Avenue residents expressed concern about the wind turbines causing sleep disturbances that could damage their health.

Some health experts and researchers have said wind turbines can cause sleep disturbances, nausea, headaches, dizziness, and memory and concentration problems for some people who live from 1,000 feet away to up to three-fourths of a mile or a mile away.

Ultimately the disturbances could cause high blood pressure and heart palpitations, according to some health experts and researchers.

“This will impact thousands of human beings,” said Russell Eugene Cunningham, of 208 Allen Township Road 14, Van Buren. “You have to bring in the human factor,” he said.

Cunningham owns rental properties in the area of the proposed wind turbines, and issued the zoning appeals board a challenge.

“Who’s going to reimburse us when our tenants start deciding they’re not going to be there because of the noise factor?” he said. “We’re going to ask for compensation when we don’t have our rentals.”

But One Energy is determined to build the wind turbines, and the Hengsteler family is determined to help it.

After the Marion Township trustee rejection last May, Kent was unflinching.

“We fully expect this project will still happen and are evaluating all the alternate paths forward,” Kent said then.

Kent’s pitch to the zoning appeals board Thursday evening occurred after it became obvious that the City Planning Commission would likely have denied the wind turbine plans.

An attorney for the Hengsteler family asked the planning commission to table the plans that were previously submitted to the commission, rather than taking a vote on them Thursday morning.

Thursday evening, Kent and the Hengsteler family’s attorney asked the board of zoning appeals to grant a variance from the city’s requirement of smaller wind turbines.

City administrators had already recommended the planning commission reject the taller wind turbines, saying they would “far” exceed the size permitted by the city.

The taller wind turbines also would have a potential negative impact on neighboring properties, city administrators said.

Wilin: 419-427-8413
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