RICHMOND, Ind. — An eastern Indiana college has placed its plans to draw energy from a wind turbine on hold while it tries to placate neighbors concerned about noise from the giant blades.
Earlham College officials told the Richmond Board of Zoning Appeals last week that the zoning requests for the site of the proposed project had been "postponed indefinitely," Brian Zimmerman, a spokesman at the Quaker-affiliated liberal arts college, said Saturday in an email. Earlham has about 1,200 students in Richmond, about 65 miles east of Indianapolis.
"As a College, we are committed to seeking ways to reduce our carbon footprint, improve the environment, and execute meaningful stewardship over the College's resources" the email said.
However, The Palladium-Item reported, Zimmerman said Earlham officials expect to meet with neighbors to discuss the wind turbine plans, but that the college remains committed to powering a substantial part of its campus with renewable energy.
The zoning application sought a special exception to use less than an acre for the wind turbine and an access road. The turbine would have stood 330 feet tall and the windmill blades' diameter would have been 375 feet, significantly more than allowed by local ordinance.
"A wind study recently completed for the college confirmed that wind energy is a viable option if the tower is tall enough. The moderate wind resource in our area requires the tower height and rotor diameter to be larger than what is stated in the ordinance," the application stated.
The variance also asked for permission to exceed the noise limit within 1,000 feet of the turbine.
Neighbors started a Facebook group called "Say No To Earlham's Wind Turbine Near City Housing."
One of those who joined, Trudi Weyermann, has lived nearby for about 15 years. "I'm all for alternative energy," she said, but she questions the location of the turbine.
"It's going to be an enormous structure," she said. "They've got a lot of property. They could locate this in a better location than near our homes."
An online petition also raises concerns about shadow flicker from the huge blades and its impact on wildlife, visibility and property values.
"These things are usually installed in the middle of nowhere for a reason," Weyermann said.