Dear Editor,

All of my life I have thought of a setback as a bad thing. Something that takes your life from where it is, crumples it in a ball like a piece of paper, and throws it in a completely different direction. I have experienced setbacks in my life and would never wish them upon anyone. Now, however, I desire for every resident of Brown County to have a setback. A 3,000 foot setback.

Recently in our study of American literature, my students read these words penned by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

I believe that the wind companies have become destructive of these ends by violating one of the most sacred liberties of rural America — land ownership. While the wind companies do not seek to usurp ownership of our homes and land without consent, they have no problem devaluing them and making them uninhabitable or undesirable due to visual obstruction and noise pollution through wind turbines and related construction on neighboring property. Once land is under contract of these companies, all of the landowner’s rights to this land disappear, and any or all of the land can be used however the wind company wishes despite any protests of the landowner or their neighbors. Thankfully, in accordance with the wisdom of our forefathers, there is a governing body that can effect our residential safety and happiness: the County Commission.

The wind companies claim that they are looking at our area for wind farms because of our notable wind resources. This may be true, but I believe they have targeted our area for two other reasons, Kansas’ tax exemption rule for renewable energy sources and Brown County’s lack of zoning setback statutes. There are currently no restrictions defining how close wind turbines can be built to residences in either state or county statutes. I propose that the Brown County Commission institute a setback resolution of a minimum of 3,000 feet from wind turbines and all related construction to homes in Brown County to protect the freedom of residents to own a home without visual obstruction or noise pollution. Without these protections, our communities will become undesirable to current and future residents, and we will become prisoners in our own homes to the contracts and profit-driven actions of wind companies.

— Katie Aberle

Brown County resident

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