Waiting to see which way the wind blows

After much discussion and opposition from neighbors, the Sussex County Board of Adjustment tabled a decision to grant a special use exemption for the placement of a windmill in Quillen’s Point in Ocean View.

The windmill, a Skystream 3.7 horizontal model, would be on top of a 33-foot tower, but would not exceed the 42-foot covenant of the neighborhood, testified Bob Light of Flexera, who would be installing it. He also testified that the noise level would be about 47 decibels or “lower than a standard heat pump or traffic.”

“It is designed to be somewhat quiet” he said of the product, adding that it would not obstruct any existing utilities, driveways or pathways as all cables, telephone and utility wires are underground.

He also added that the amount of energy the windmill would produce would increase the property values, thereby increasing nearby property values and guaranteed the foundation upon which it is to be built structurally sound. There was some question at an earlier case about the “toppling over” of a windmill near Bethany Beach.

“The windmills don’t move, I guarantee it,” said Light. “Two have been taken down because of homeowner’s associations threatening to take people to court and at least one will be going back up as the homeowner is negotiating with the association. None have come down. The rumor came from a little bit of movement in one of the foundations and that contractor will not be putting any more in. There is zero chance of one coming down.”

He added that once the soil test is done and the foundation is put in, it would be easier to cut down the tower that to get the windmill back out of its foundation. He also said they had recently installed one near Broadkill Beach with a 12-foot vertical calvert pipe underneath the foundation to insure it being able to withstand the sandy, coastal soil.

“There is no danger and there never has been any danger of them coming down,” he stressed.

Despite the reinforcement that the windmills are safe and effective from Light, there was plenty of opposition from nearby residents.

Paul Wilkerson, board member of the Homeowner’s Association for Quillen’s Point and member of the architechural committee, said they are not “anti-green,” but draw the line at a windmill on a quarter acre bayfront lot.

“Tom’s a top notch neighbor, but everybody around him doesn’t want it. Of the 11 to 12 people he had to notify, all but two are opposed to it.” He added those supporting it are not near the windmill nor would they, or their view, be directly affected.

He also said he checked out the web site for the manufacturer’s specifications and said that lots of at least half an acre were recommended for the model in question.

“It said properties should have a half acre or more, be at least 20 feet above trees and a 250 foot radius from any buildings. [As proposed] it’s an arm’s length from his house and about 20 feet from his neighbor’s” said Wilkerson.

“Everybody wants to be green — we are not opposed to solar panels, or geothermal, but putting something over 40-feet tall that’s affecting the neighbors and affecting their views, that’s where we take exception.”

Three other neighbors reiterated similar thoughts — that it would be a nuisance, and a constant noise maker and would affect the quality of life residents of Quillen’s Point have come to expect with properties.

Thirteen people raised their hands in support of the application, seven opposed and the board had 17 letters of opposition on hand. The board decided they would review all letters, in opposition or otherwise, and revisit the issue at the next meeting, May 18.