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Big Props VS Small(er) Props

Some Northern Indiana Farmers Want To Close Kentland Airport To Make Way For Wind Farms

Some landowners in an area of northern Indiana about 80 miles south of Chicago say a small airport is standing in the way of progress ... mostly their progress. They say that closing Kentland Municipal Airport (50I) in Newton County would open up 77 square miles to wind farming.

 
File Photo

The region is one of the windiest in the state of Indiana, and more than 100 wind turbines are operating in neighboring Benton County. Landowner Mark Simons, the owner of a 400 acre farm near the airport, told the Associated Press "I can see them, but I can't have them." He said the reason is the airport that "hardly anyone uses and costs the town money." He says the wind turbines would be a great asset to the local economy.

But Kentland Mayor Dave Smart sees it differently. He says he has no interest in shutting the airport down. "If you want to draw new business, this is what you need ... an airport," he said.

Even if Smart wanted to shut the airport down, it would be a difficult thing. The FAA has made more than $1 million in grants to the facility since it opened 34 years ago, and as he points out, "the FAA is not in the business of shutting down airports." The airport normally records about 28 operations per day, but poor weather decreased those numbers in the early part of 2010. There were reportedly only 36 operations in May of this year.


Kentland Sectional

The landowners who would like to have their property opened up to wind farming say the turbines could generate jobs and $1 million in tax revenue for the county. "This is the future," Simons said.

Of course, there would be a direct economic benefit to those landowners as well. One family which owns 1,200 acres near the field think they could make between eight and twelve thousand dollars a year per turbine if they were allowed to build them. Natalie Gilbert said it "would be a shame" not to at least explore the benefits of a wind farm to the county.

FMI: www.newtoncountyin.com

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