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Published: Tuesday, 4/19/2011

Riga Twp. residents weigh consequences of wind turbines


RIGA, Mich. — For 200 area residents immersed in southeastern Lenawee County’s contentious battle over wind turbines and their anticipated noise, a dueling lecture in audiology was disguised as a special Riga Township meeting Tuesday night.

A-weighted decibels. C-weighted decibels. Infrasound vs. audible sound. What does it all mean?

Quite simply, the future of Riga Township. And, to some degree, that of neighboring Ogden, Palmyra, and Fairfield townships.

Plans to erect some 200 turbines in that part of Lenawee County — the sum of projects discussed by at least three companies — would be an enormous infusion of cash, millions of dollars, to that area’s tax base. But several residents — many who attended Tuesday night’s meeting — also fear it would disrupt their peace and quiet, thereby possibly hurting property values and maybe even their health.

So now, among other things, leaders are trying to make heads and tails of conflicting noise studies as they try to decide how much humming and swishing sounds will be generated by those rotating turbine blades.

With the prospect of wind-power developers making an historic economic investment in this rural area limited in its ability to attract other types of industries, officials in Riga, Ogden, Palmyra, and Fairfield townships are weighing the pros and cons of ordinances that would foster or fend off the sight of gigantic, commercial-scale turbines across their countryside.

Riga is generally seen as the pace-setter. Those four townships are admittedly more handcuffed than others when it comes to economic development because they lack access to major rivers, streams, and other bodies of water.

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