Thu, Jun 17, 2010
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.
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.
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
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.
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