By Daniel Pearce, Simcoe Reformer
Residents in the west end of Norfolk are calling on council to use its new noise bylaw to put a stop to the wind turbines next to them that they say are ruining their health.
In a presentation to elected officials Tuesday night, Stephana Johnston outlined the health problems residents, including herself, face due to the constant rotation of the towers’ propellers: headaches, sleeplessness, muscle twitching.
“At times it sounds like a 747 flying overhead. For others it’s a whoosh,” said Johnston, a retired school teacher who has had to rent a room in Delhi to sleep at night. “It’s an invasion of our peace and tranquility. It’s impossible to sell our properties.”
Johnston asked that the county word its new bylaw in a way that can help the residents shut down the turbines.
The county, however, no longer has control over the location of renewable energy projects thanks to the Green Energy Act, which has given all the power to the province, said Mayor Dennis Travale.
As well, the bylaw will only cover noise, not vibrations from the spinning propellers, said Fritz Enzlin, Norfolk’s chief building official.
“If it’s just a vibration, it’s not included in the bylaw,” he said.
The county is developing a new noise bylaw to replace the four others from the municipalities that were merged a decade ago to form the new Norfolk County.
“We want to do what is right. The problem is, ‘What is right?'” Wells said.
Johnston read letters from other residents who couldn’t come to the meeting.
One said “we are suffering a living hell” and the “consequences” of being next to the turbines “are real and debilitating.”
In a letter to council, Virginia and Hubert Seeliger of Lakeshore Road offered a list of homes that have been abandoned or left vacant and their sales prices — most of which are at least 30% lower than the original list price.
“The once beautiful and natural environment surrounding our property has been very negatively affected since the implementation of (the turbines) in the fall of 2008,” wrote the couple, who complained of sleeplessness, headaches, and pressure in the ears.
Council, Johnston warned, is only getting “one side” of the debate, the side of the wind development industry.
She said residents had tried to get the health unit involved but “instead of action we get the propaganda of the Canada and U.S. wind energy associations.”
Council has decided to wait to pass the measure while the public gets a chance to look at it and give feedback.
Port Dover Coun. John Wells said council is in a difficult situation, facing public opinion on the one hand that favours green energy and on the other residents who feel the windmills are hurting them.