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9/21/09 Wisconsin Home For Sale: Must like wind turbine noise and shadow flicker AND What's that they say about sausage and law? AND What has similar legislation brought to Wisconsin?

Home For Sale near the Town of Byron Winter 2009

CLICK HERE TO READ TODAY'S "WIND TURBINES IN THE NEWS" FEATURE: "Birds caught in wind farm push: Bird deaths present problem at wind farms.

Landowners say turbines have hurt their property values

By Colleen Kottke
The Reporter ckottke@fdlreporter.com

In the years since the Forward Wind Energy Center came on line, "For Sale" signs have popped up all over Gerry Meyer's rural neighborhood in the town of Byron.

"There's about six homes that are still for sale," said Meyer, who has five towering turbines within three-quarters of a mile of his home on County Trunk Y south of Fond du Lac.

Meyer is convinced that the aesthetically displeasing look of the 400-foot turbines and subsequent ill effects experienced by nearby residents from the noise, vibration and light-flicker has caused housing values to plummet.

A just-released study commissioned by wind-power opponents concurs, saying that property values have fallen at least 19 percent for properties located near the We Energies wind farm in Fond du Lac County and 12 percent for those located near Invenergy's Forward Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties.

The study by Appraisal Group One was commissioned by a Calumet County affiliate of the state Coalition for Wisconsin Environmental Steward, a group fighting a We Energies wind farm project in Columbia County.

'Quite a reach'

Brian Manthey, a spokesman for We Energies, said the report failed to make accurate comparisons in properties used to track declining values.

"They compared subdivision and lake view lots when the properties in our wind farm area were considered agricultural lots back in 2006. Ultimately, they figured in the sale of four lots, which is tough to draw any comparisons when using such a small scale," said Manthey, who described the report's findings as "quite a reach."

Since construction of the 88-turbine project in the Blue Sky Green Field project in the towns of Calumet and Marshfield, Manthey said 12 homes have been sold; some homes sold above assessed value while others sold below fair market values. Manthey said the report is misleading in that it doesn't take into consideration other factors impacting property values.

"The economy and the housing market collapse have really turned everything on its head," Manthey said. "Those kinds of things aren't just factors but a dominant force in how property values are measured and what effect it has on the selling and purchasing of homes — not just the proximity of wind turbines."

Frank Adashun, co-owner of Adashun Jones in Fond du Lac and director of the Realtors Association of Northeast Wisconsin, said the property value percentages presented in the report are unproven.

"In my opinion, those numbers cannot be quantified with the statistics available right now through the multiple listing service of the RANW because there haven't been the sales to prove it," Adashun said. "There is no way to gauge the direct impact that wind turbines have on sales and property values unless you compare sales, and there hasn't been enough to provide a percentage or deduction."

Smaller pool of buyers

While he is in support of alternative energy, Fond du Lac real estate agent Scott Swick thinks that the close proximity of wind turbines to residential homes may reduce property values.

"They're harder to sell, especially with potential homebuyers that are sensitive to anything that appears to be negative in their backyard," Swick said.

With the economic downturn and high unemployment rates, Swick said there is a smaller pool of home buyers. And those living in the shadow of the wind turbines may be motivated enough to reduce their selling price just to secure a sale.

"If the housing market started to increase and yet the prices remained depressed in the area of the wind turbines, it would be a better indicator that the turbines were having a direct impact," Swick said "But it's hard to isolate one element when there are so many elements involved in a declining market."

Tony and Liv Moyer, who built their dream home out in the country in the town of Empire, have no doubts that their home would sell at a loss. Their Pine Road home is located within the Alliant Energy Cedar Ridge Wind Farm.

"When you have 400-foot turbines on all sides of your house, and you can't even open your windows at night because of the noise, it definitely has an impact on our property value," Moyer said.

Adashun said wind turbines are a distraction and concern for many home buyers due to the visual impact, noise and flashing red lights at night.

"But on the other hand, we've sold many homes near wind turbines. You just have to find a buyer that doesn't have any concerns with the wind farm," Adashun said.

NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: They say the two things you never want to see being made are sausage and law.

For those of you who wish to look into the meat grinder we give you....

The History of Senate Bill 185

SENATE BILL 185 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB-185.pdf>                                         LC Amendment Memo <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/lc_amdt/sb185.pdf>
An Act to renumber and amend 66.0401 (1); to amend 66.0401 (2) and
66.0403 (1) (m); to repeal and recreate 196.378 (4) (title); and to
create 66.0401 (1e), 66.0401 (3), 66.0401 (4), 66.0401 (5), 66.0401 (6),
196.378 (4g) and 196.491 (3) (dg) of the statutes; relating to:
regulation of wind energy systems and granting rule-making authority.
   05-04.  S. Introduced by Senators Plale, Hopper, Hansen, Holperin,
                Kreitlow, Taylor, Sullivan, Miller, Risser, Wirch and
                Coggs; cosponsored by Representatives Soletski,
                Montgomery, Parisi, Black, Mason, Spanbauer, Hilgenberg,
                Roys, Townsend, Richards, Suder, Honadel, Pocan, Clark,
                Wood, Smith, Pasch, Vruwink, Molepske Jr. and Stone.
   05-04.  S. Read first time and referred to committee on Commerce,
                Utilities, Energy, and Rail  ............................ 154
   05-12.  S. Public hearing held.
   05-12.  S. Fiscal estimate received <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/fe/SB-185fe.pdf> .
   08-04.  S. Executive action taken.
   08-05.  S. Report introduction of Senate Substitute Amendment 1 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-SSA1.pdf>
                recommended by committee on Commerce, Utilities,
                Energy, and Rail, Ayes 7, Noes 0 ........................ 256
   08-05.  S. Report introduction and adoption of Senate Amendment 1 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-SSA1-SA1.pdf>  to Senate Substitute Amendment 1 recommended by
                committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy, and Rail,
                Ayes 7, Noes 0 .......................................... 256
   08-05.  S. Report introduction and adoption of Senate Amendment 2 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-SSA1-SA2.pdf>  to Senate Substitute Amendment 1 recommended by
                committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy, and Rail,
                Ayes 7, Noes 0 .......................................... 256
   08-05.  S. Report introduction and adoption of Senate Amendment 3 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-SSA1-SA3.pdf>  to Senate Substitute Amendment 1 recommended by
                committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy, and Rail,
                Ayes 7, Noes 0 .......................................... 256
   08-05.  S. Report adoption of Senate Substitute Amendment 1 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-SSA1.pdf>
                recommended by committee on Commerce, Utilities,
                Energy, and Rail, Ayes 7, Noes 0 ........................ 256
   08-05.  S. Report passage as amended recommended by committee on
                Commerce, Utilities, Energy, and Rail, Ayes 6, Noes
                1 ....................................................... 256
   08-05.  S. Available for scheduling.
   08-17.  S. LRB correction (Senate Substitute Amendment 1 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-SSA1.pdf> )
                 ........................................................ 264
   09-08.  S. Placed on calendar 9-15-2009 by committee on Senate
                Organization  ........................................... 299
   09-14.  S. Senate substitute amendment 2 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-SSA2.pdf>  offered by Senator Plale.
   09-15.  S. Senator Lassa added as a coauthor.
   09-15.  S. Read a second time.
   09-15.  S. Senate substitute amendment 1 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-SSA1.pdf>  laid on table.
   09-15.  S. Senate substitute amendment 2 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-SSA2.pdf>  adopted .
   09-15.  S. Senate substitute amendment 3 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-SSA3.pdf>  offered by Senator
   09-15.  S. Senate substitute amendment 3 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-SSA3.pdf>  withdrawn and returned
                to author.
   09-15.  S. Ordered to a third reading.
   09-15.  S. Rules suspended.
   09-15.  S. Read a third time and passed, Ayes 23, Noes 9 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/sv0095.pdf>
   09-15.  S. Ordered immediately messaged.
   09-16.  A. Received from Senate.
   09-16.  A. Read.
   09-16.  A. Rules suspended to withdraw from Senate message and
                place on calendar 9-16-2009.
   09-16.  A. Rules suspended to withdraw from calendar and take up.
   09-16.  A. Read a second time.
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 1 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA1.pdf>  offered by Representative Ripp.
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 1 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA1.pdf>  withdrawn and returned to author.
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 2 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA2.pdf>  offered by Representative Davis.
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 2 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA2.pdf>  laid on table, Ayes 50, Noes 47 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0280.pdf>
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 3 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA3.pdf>  offered by Representative Davis.
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 3 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA3.pdf>  laid on table, Ayes 56, Noes 42 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0281.pdf>
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 4 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA4.pdf>  offered by Representative Davis.
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 4 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA4.pdf>  laid on table, Ayes 50, Noes 48 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0282.pdf>
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 5 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA5.pdf>  offered by Representatives
                Huebsch and Ripp.
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 5 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA5.pdf>  laid on table, Ayes 50, Noes 48 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0283.pdf>
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 6 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA6.pdf>  offered by Representatives
                Huebsch and Ripp.
   09-16.  A. Refused to table Assembly amendment 6 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA6.pdf> , Ayes 49, Noes <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0284.pdf>
                49 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0284.pdf>  ............
   09-16.  A. Refused to adopt Assembly amendment 6 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA6.pdf> , Ayes 49, Noes <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0285.pdf>
                49 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0285.pdf>  ............
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 7 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA7.pdf>  offered by Representative Wood.
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 7 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA7.pdf>  laid on table, Ayes 62, Noes 36 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0286.pdf>
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 8 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA8.pdf>  offered by Representative Krusick.
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 8 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA8.pdf>  laid on table, Ayes 61, Noes 37 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0287.pdf>
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 9 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA9.pdf>  offered by Representatives
                Krusick and Ballweg.
   09-16.  A. Assembly amendment 9 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB185-AA9.pdf>  laid on table, Ayes 50, Noes 48 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0288.pdf>
   09-16.  A. Ordered to a third reading.
   09-16.  A. Rules suspended.
   09-16.  A. Read a third time and concurred in, Ayes 65, Noes 31, <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0289.pdf>
                Paired 2 <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/votes/av0289.pdf>  ............
   09-16.  A. Ordered immediately messaged.

Search for another history <http://www.legis.state.wi.us/billtext.html>

<http://www.legis.state.wi.us/billtrack.html> Back to Legislation Page

  Click to visit Legislature Home Page
If you live in rural Wisconsin, YOU COULD ALREADY BE A WEINER!!!

NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: The turbine siting legislation that was passed last week was frequently compared to the livestock siting legislation that also allowed big money interests to skip over local goverment control bringing us....

September 18, 2009

Health Ills Abound as Farm Runoff Fouls Wells


New York Times

September 17th, 2009

MORRISON, Wis. — All it took was an early thaw for the drinking water here to become unsafe.

There are 41,000 dairy cows in Brown County, which includes Morrison, and they produce more than 260 million gallons of manure each year, much of which is spread on nearby grain fields. Other farmers receive fees to cover their land with slaughterhouse waste and treated sewage.

In measured amounts, that waste acts as fertilizer. But if the amounts are excessive, bacteria and chemicals can flow into the ground and contaminate residents’ tap water.

In Morrison, more than 100 wells were polluted by agricultural runoff within a few months, according to local officials. As parasites and bacteria seeped into drinking water, residents suffered from chronic diarrhea, stomach illnesses and severe ear infections.

“Sometimes it smells like a barn coming out of the faucet,” said Lisa Barnard, who lives a few towns over, and just 15 miles from the city of Green Bay.

Tests of her water showed it contained E. coli, coliform bacteria and other contaminants found in manure. Last year, her 5-year-old son developed ear infections that eventually required an operation. Her doctor told her they were most likely caused by bathing in polluted water, she said.

Yet runoff from all but the largest farms is essentially unregulated by many of the federal laws intended to prevent pollution and protect drinking water sources. The Clean Water Act of 1972 largely regulates only chemicals or contaminants that move through pipes or ditches, which means it does not typically apply to waste that is sprayed on a field and seeps into groundwater.

As a result, many of the agricultural pollutants that contaminate drinking water sources are often subject only to state or county regulations. And those laws have failed to protect some residents living nearby.

To address this problem, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has created special rules for the biggest farms, like those with at least 700 cows.

But thousands of large animal feedlots that should be regulated by those rules are effectively ignored because farmers never file paperwork, E.P.A. officials say.

And regulations passed during the administration of President George W. Bush allow many of those farms to self-certify that they will not pollute, and thereby largely escape regulation.

In a statement, the E.P.A. wrote that officials were working closely with the Agriculture Department and other federal agencies to reduce pollution and bring large farms into compliance.

Agricultural runoff is the single largest source of water pollution in the nation’s rivers and streams, according to the E.P.A. An estimated 19.5 million Americans fall ill each year from waterborne parasites, viruses or bacteria, including those stemming from human and animal waste, according to a study published last year in the scientific journal Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

The problem is not limited to Wisconsin. In California, up to 15 percent of wells in agricultural areas exceed a federal contaminant threshold, according to studies. Major waterways like the Chesapeake Bay have been seriously damaged by agricultural pollution, according to government reports.

In Arkansas and Maryland, residents have accused chicken farm owners of polluting drinking water. In 2005, Oklahoma’s attorney general sued 13 poultry companies, claiming they had damaged one of the state’s most important watersheds.

It is often difficult to definitively link a specific instance of disease to one particular cause, like water pollution. Even when tests show that drinking water is polluted, it can be hard to pinpoint the source of the contamination.

Despite such caveats, regulators in Brown County say they believe that manure has contaminated tap water, making residents ill.

“One cow produces as much waste as 18 people,” said Bill Hafs, a county official who has lobbied the state Legislature for stricter waste rules.

“There just isn’t enough land to absorb that much manure, but we don’t have laws to force people to stop,” he added.

In Brown County, part of one of the nation’s largest milk-producing regions, agriculture brings in $3 billion a year. But the dairies collectively also create as much as a million gallons of waste each day. Many cows are fed a high-protein diet, which creates a more liquid manure that is easier to spray on fields.

In 2006, an unusually early thaw in Brown County melted frozen fields, including some that were covered in manure. Within days, according to a county study, more than 100 wells were contaminated with coliform bacteria, E. coli, or nitrates — byproducts of manure or other fertilizers.

“Land application requirements in place at that time were not sufficiently designed or monitored to prevent the pollution of wells,” one official wrote.

Some residents did not realize that their water was contaminated until their neighbors fell ill, which prompted them to test their own water.

“We were terrified,” said Aleisha Petri, whose water was polluted for months, until her husband dumped enough bleach in the well to kill the contaminants. Neighbors spent thousands of dollars digging new wells.

At a town hall meeting, angry homeowners yelled at dairy owners, some of whom are perceived as among the most wealthy and powerful people in town.

One resident said that he had seen cow organs dumped on a neighboring field, and his dog had dug up animal carcasses and bones.

“More than 30 percent of the wells in one town alone violated basic health standards,” said Mr. Hafs, the Brown County regulator responsible for land and water conservation, in an interview. “It’s obvious we’ve got a problem.”

But dairy owners said it was unfair to blame them for the county’s water problems. They noted that state regulators, in their reports, were unable to definitively establish the source of the 2006 contamination.

One of those farmers, Dan Natzke, owns Wayside Dairy, one of the largest farms around here. Just a few decades ago, it had just 60 cows. Today, its 1,400 animals live in enormous barns and are milked by suction pumps.

In June, Mr. Natzke explained to visiting kindergarteners that his cows produced 1.5 million gallons of manure a month. The dairy owns 1,000 acres and rents another 1,800 acres to dispose of that waste and grow crops to feed the cows.

“Where does the poop go?” one boy asked. “And what happens to the cow when it gets old?”

“The waste helps grow food,” Mr. Natzke replied. “And that’s what the cow becomes, too.”

His farm abides by dozens of state laws, Mr. Natzke said.

“All of our waste management is reviewed by our agronomist and by the state’s regulators,” he added. “We follow all the rules.”

But records show that his farm was fined $56,000 last October for spreading excessive waste. Mr. Natzke declined to comment.

Many environmental advocates argue that agricultural pollution will be reduced only through stronger federal laws. Lisa P. Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, has recently ordered an increase in enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, has said that clean water is a priority, and President Obama promised in campaign speeches to regulate water pollution from livestock.

But Congress has not created many new rules on the topic and, as a result, officials say their powers remain limited.

Part of the problem, according to data collected from the E.P.A. and every state, is that environmental agencies are already overtaxed. And it is unclear how to design effective laws, say regulators, including Ms. Jackson, who was confirmed to head the E.P.A. in January.

To fix the problem of agricultural runoff, “I don’t think there’s a solution in my head yet that I could say, right now, write this piece of legislation, this will get it done,” Ms. Jackson said in an interview.

She added that “the challenge now is for E.P.A. and Congress to develop solutions that represent the next step in protecting our nation’s waters and people’s health.”

A potential solution, regulators say, is to find new uses for manure. In Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle has financed projects to use farm waste to generate electricity.

But environmentalists and some lawmakers say real change will occur only when Congress passes laws giving the E.P.A. broad powers to regulate farms. Tougher statutes should permit drastic steps — like shutting down farms or blocking expansion — when watersheds become threatened, they argue.

However, a powerful farm lobby has blocked previous environmental efforts on Capital Hill. Even when state legislatures have acted, they have often encountered unexpected difficulties.

After Brown County’s wells became polluted, for instance, Wisconsin created new rules prohibiting farmers in many areas from spraying manure during winter, and creating additional requirements for large dairies.

But agriculture is among the state’s most powerful industries. After intense lobbying, the farmers’ association won a provision requiring the state often to finance up to 70 percent of the cost of following the new regulations. Unless regulators pay, some farmers do not have to comply.

In a statement, Adam Collins, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said farmers can only apply waste to fields “according to a nutrient management plan, which, among other things, requires that manure runoff be minimized.”

When there is evidence that a farm has “contaminated a water source, we can and do take enforcement action,” he wrote.

“Wisconsin has a long history of continuously working to improve water quality and a strong reputation nationally for our clean water efforts,” he added. “Approximately 800,000 private drinking water wells serve rural Wisconsin residents. The vast majority of wells provide safe drinking water.”

But anger in some towns remains. At the elementary school a few miles from Mr. Natzke’s dairy, there are signs above drinking fountains warning that the water may be dangerous for infants.

“I go to church with the Natzkes,” said Joel Reetz, who spent $16,000 digging a deeper well after he learned his water was polluted. “Our kid goes to school with their kids. It puts us in a terrible position, because everyone knows each other.

“But what’s happening to this town isn’t right,” he said.


Posted on Monday, September 21, 2009 at 11:16AM by Registered CommenterThe BPRC Research Nerd | Comments Off

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