Recent Supreme Court Decision Could Help Stop Wind Farm Threatening Amish Community

Amish in Farmersville, New York have threatened to move if a wind farm is built in their area. They are involved in a conflict between Alle-Catt Wind Energy (owned by energy giant Invenergy) and local residents organized as the Coalition of Concerned Citizens fighting the proposed 117-turbine farm.

So it’s not just a case involving the Amish (I don’t know that the Amish are even officially in the Coalition). But the Amish feelings have been made known, and will be used by attorney for the group Gary Abraham. Here’s the objection by the Amish, from the Olean Times Herald:

The Swartzentruber Amish also have a community in Farmersville, and are opposed to the wind turbines that could rise up to 600 feet if the developer, Invenergy, prevails.

Abraham argues that the wind turbines will displace 32 Amish families in Farmersville who have vowed to move from the area if they are installed near their homes.

The Amish, who worship in each other’s homes, have claimed their homes as churches with regard to the wind turbines, which would require a greater setback than from homes. Schools also are entitled to a greater setback under Farmersville’s local law.

As it happens the recent Supreme Court gray water case decision in favor of the Minnesota Amish may factor in stopping this wind farm. Gary Abraham says that “’the Minnesota case strengthens my argument.’” Abraham “plans to cite the Supreme Court decisions in his oral argument before members of the Fourth Department during the August-September term.”

I for one hope so. I’d like to see the Amish and those on their side win this one. I would not want these awful, creepy wind turbines looming over my landscape for decades.

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    1. Alex Knisely

      What a deplorably information-free post

      “The Amish” think that new-model windmills are — what ? We’re not told. But they object to such windmills. So does the man who runs this website, using as a descriptor the word “creepy”.

      Why might “the Amish” think this ? Why does the webmaster use the word “threatened” ? Do they object to other obtrusions of technology into the countryside — paved roads, gas well “donkeys”, power lines ? No information. Well, the webmaster can’t get into their heads.

      But he could tell us why he objects to them so. Instead, again — no information.

      They’re just “creepy”. Maybe they make him feel “icky”. That’s the level of intelligent objection presented in the webmaster’s account.

      They are dangerous to birdlife and to batlife ? Okay. A point there. Beyond that ? They’re large. They’re unfamiliar. They’re, God forbid, NEW.

      Please, webmaster, give us something more from “the Amish”, and from yourself, than a bleat of “We don’t laaaaaaaaike them ! ! ! “

      1. All buildings pose risks to wildlife. Every few days a bird kills itself by flying into a window of my one-story house.

      2. Plenty of information

        Informing of this conflict (a new story to me, probably others).
        Informing of the Amish involvement in it.
        Noting that the recent MN Supreme Court decision may come into play, with a link to that post.

        Wind farms have been an issue for what, a decade-plus now? Two decades? No one wants these in their backyard. It still needs explaining at this point? Eyesore, health concerns, some people worry about birds, etc. Google.

        The point of sharing this was not to explain my feelings extensively. That’s an add-on. I’ve commented on not liking these things in past posts.

        But if you *really* crave further explanation, there are clues in the final six words, suggesting these are not visibly attractive to have in your backyard.

        Right on schedule though 😀

    2. So are the Amish objecting only out of aesthetic concerns?

      What’s their problem? Can it be that they just don’t like the looks of wind turbines? Do they also object to high tension power lines, which are much uglier? Or are they buying into some of the false and ignorant claims that turbines cause some kind of harm to people?

      1. This is the only story I’ve seen on it, but fwiw I’d guess that they don’t like the visual aspect along with the disturbing noise and motion they create.

        Obviously, Amish are surrounded by and regularly encounter technology that they themselves wouldn’t use/own. And they don’t object to its presence.
        But I am not sure that there is anything comparable in terms of size and motion and intrusiveness to modern wind turbines. A quick google tells me that high tension power lines can go up to 150 to over 200 feet tall (correct me if that’s wrong) which is about a quarter to a third of the height of these wind turbines. And if I’m not mistaken, those don’t move in any way (though I understand do create some sound disturbance).

        Without the information being provided, I’m simply guessing their objections are similar to other Americans’ who’d prefer not to have arrays of 600-700-foot turbines in their daily sightline and vicinity. Aesthetic, health concerns, etc.

        I remember the first wind farm I saw up close. I find them disturbing, even beyond the aesthetic element, in a way that’s difficult to put a finger on. It’s a combination of the size, motion, and the noise they create. The best word I came up for when describing it in the past is…”creepy”, and I’ll stick with that.

        The feelings expressed by John Yancey in this 2008 article capture sort of what I experienced. And I was just visiting, this poor guy has to live next to them.

    3. Janet A Grayson

      I am with the Amish on this one.

      I agree with the Amish: the wind turbines would be a blight on their community. I have seen them in my travels and they are an ugly sight on the horizon. They also kill bats and birds and I have no idea how they would ever be recycled when they are no longer functional.

    4. Jerry

      Wind Turbines

      I have limited experience with turbines but a couple of years ago I was visiting Centralia, PA where an underground mine fire has been burning since 1962. The town had to pack up and move away. On the mountain ridge above the old town are 25 turbines. I went to visit the machines and was surprised by their size, the constant humming and the huge amount of dead birds on the ground. My guide said the dead birds attract huge numbers of scavengers that included coyote, raccoon and hawks. Those three predators could also make Amish life difficult if they were to form large numbers near Amish settlements. Chickens, turkeys, lambs and calves would be most likely targets of the new predator population.

    5. Paula


      I can see where the Swartzentruber Amish may not like them & may have issues with livestock farms.

      I also thought they were creepy at first. But then…my son, who lives in north central Indiana, rented a farmhouse from a farmer. This farmer raises only corn. And he has at LEAST 100 wind turbines on his farm. My son is SURROUNDED by corn & wind turbines. Look out his large living room picture window & there they are. I gotta say…there was zero noise . No humming. The farmer says he’s never found any more dead birds in his hundreds of acres as he did before the turbines.

      Personally I find them calming with there gentle turning. And so does my son. We have a bunch in NY in the Southern Tier too. And personally…I find driving over hundreds of miles of flat land & nothing but corn on both sides of you…as far as the eyes can see…creepier.

    6. J.O.B.

      Read the story

      600 feet tall. Spanning over 33,000 acres.

      This is no small project. You do not want your home next to this.

      Also, the local government once again violated their own laws to push this project thru. The company building these wind turbines are trying to not pay taxes. This is no innocent wind farm company and local government.

      Even the locals, who are not Amish, are fighting this.

    7. Wind Power

      The Amish in Manchester, Wisconsin, close to where I live, have been living with wind turbines for quite a while now and I’ve never heard of one complaint from any of them. I’m guessing that because the Wisconsinite Amish all have windmills – for drawing water from their wells – on their farms that they just suppose that the wind turbines are nothing more than technological advances utilized by the English to bring them electricity. It makes sense to utilize the wind and/or sun to produce electric power over that of fossil fuels which pollute and destroy the environment. I’d also like to point out that there’s no such thing as 600 foot tall wind turbines; the very largest ones are in Texas where the top out at 345 feet. Maybe the Farmersville, New York Amish have been listening to the bullroar given by past President Trump – who believes that wind turbines cause cancer – and just another one of his myriad lies.

      1. J.O.B.

        The story literally says 600 feet .

        The tallest wind turbine in the U.S. is about 570 feet tall.

        Each year they are getting taller. Latest info has a 875 foot wind turbine in development right now.

    8. I see that Texas has some at 590 feet. The taller and the longer the vanes, the more consistent is the energy output. Coincidentally, they are quieter.

      We’re all going to have to get used to the spread of technologies to make energy without adding to global warming. No doubt some Amish will learn to make money by leasing easements across their land so that work crews can drive to each tower for regular maintenance.

    9. Trish

      Weighing in on this one

      I used to be a regular commenter on this site, but have not been around for several years. This article just kind of grabbed me.

      If the government were trying to force the Amish to have wind turbines on their land by eminent domain, my sympathies would be with the Amish. However, I think the Amish desire to keep their neighbors from having win turbines on THEIR land is like the people who want to force the Amish to change their way of life to be more like the surrounding “English” community.

      As for the idea that wind farms are an “eyesore,” I realize there’s no accounting for personal aesthetic tastes. I find them beautiful.

      I have been up close to them, and have not found them “noisy.” Why would they be? I sometimes wonder if people picture them as giant motor-driven propellers. The noises they describe expecting sound more like the sound of a motor than of a wind-driven turbine. Some sound, sure, as the wind going through tree branches makes some sound, but not motor-like noises.

      Does it change the landscape? Of course. All human activity, including farming, does. When those big irrigation sprinklers came out, people complained that those were “ugly,” too. But now they are just part of the rural landscape. I have no problem with wind turbines becoming part of it, too.

      I have often defended the rights of the Amish to live as their consciences dictate, and if they feel they cannot live in the shadow of an electricity-generating wind farm, I can understand why they might want to move. But I personally don’t “get” this issue the way I understand (at least at some level) some of the other issues their community faces.

      1. J.O.B.

        If people are interested

        Non-Amish are involved fighting against this project.

        117 wind turbines over 33,000 acres is a large project.
        It Spans over 3 different counties.

        New infrastructure will need to be built for the large trucks and heavy machinery to build and maintain this wind farm.

        Laws were not followed by local government to push this project thru. The company is fighting for tax exempt status and the State is passing a new law to allow tax exempt status for this company.

        New York Gov. Cuomo helped pass a bill that strips local governments ability to stop big companies like this from moving in.

        THese wind farm projects are being forced onto low income communities since they do not have the resources to fight back. This project is no different.

        It these are built on your land, you may lose the right to negotiate lease agreements/income. You are basically forced to take what they offer.

        There is a lot going on with these projects. It’s not about just how they look.

        1. Starling


          Typical small town corruption. First they changed the laws about height and setbacks. The town board have financial interests. One member recused himself since he will be leasing land to the company, but other board members with in-laws and parents who will be also be leasing voted yes. Alle-Catte itself say it will pay 2.7 million dollars annually to the landowners. Town board also voted to eat nearly $700,000 a year in taxes from Invenergy. Even the town planning commission wanted to nix this project but were ignored.

          The setback would be 600ft from the property line or 1500ft from a residence. Except for the supervisor, the other members setbacks are 1.5 to 2.8 miles.

          So the townfolk, Amish or not are furious that they want to build up to 116 wind turbines, taller than the Washington monument next to them.

          Wind and solar power is unreliable, so transmission lines will also need to be built to other facilities to help meet the energy shortage when the wind don’t blow.

          When the turbines are at the end of their lifespan, which seems to be 15 to 20 years, is the town going to be on the hook for cleanup or will the company be required to set aside a fund for the demolition and landfilling of the blades?

          And the turbines are ugly.


      Wind Mills

      How are these Amish being “threatened”?
      I keep seeing more windmills sprouting up on the landscape in many rural areas and while some folks may be opposed to them I don’t think they are threatening.
      Like it or not, Green energy is gaining momentum and windmills are part of the equation.
      Will the Amish be protesting utility poles, tall silos and autos driving on the roads?

      1. “Will the Amish be protesting utility poles, tall silos and autos driving on the roads?”

        No, they won’t. Not a great comparison there. See comments above.

        1. JON THORELL

          Court Ruling

          “Not so fast Erik.
          Lets see how the Amish react when their State uses eminent domain to build giant transmission towers across their farms, construct a four lane highway, dig underground internet lines or grants a permit for a 10,000 cow dairy.
          They may have to voluntarily relocate and hope that the same things do not reoccur at their new digs.
          Many farmers (including myself) find the windmills distracting and a scar upon the landscape. However, many neighbors do not, and they want to make income by placing them on their land.
          My wife and I drove 4000 miles last week in 10 states.
          We were very surprised at the number of windmill farms we saw everywhere.
          This administration wants to build thousands more.
          There have been successful lawsuits that have stopped windmill farms in the past few years but the “green new deal” is gaining momentum and the Amish, and other opponents, may not always get their wish.
          There are now 330 million people in the U.S.
          As the Amish population grows and expands, they are going to have accept change like the rest of us. The days of sheltering in rural environments is over. Look at Lancaster, PA.

          1. Most of the Amish in Indiana do not farm. They live in suburban or exurban neighborhoods and work in factories, many making RVs. Many don’t have enough land to properly keep one horse, which is another point of clash with the English.

          2. I’m a little confused by your comments because in the previous one you wrote you don’t think they are threatening but here you describe them as a scar and distracting.

            Also these are not exactly the same things:

            “Will the Amish be protesting utility poles, tall silos and autos driving on the roads?”


            “Lets see how the Amish react when their State uses eminent domain to build giant transmission towers across their farms, construct a four lane highway, dig underground internet lines or grants a permit for a 10,000 cow dairy.”

    11. Ryan Hennessy


      Please put them in my backyard. I think wind turbines are beautiful and marvels of technology. I’ve been up close and personal with them, heard almost no noise, and it’s only deepened my appreciation for the engineering on display. Not to mention that the world is literally on fire and we need to do whatever we can to change that, and sorry, that includes building what some people might consider an “eyesore.”

      1. In a few years, maybe a decade or so, many people will find the sight of wind turbines and solar farms satisfying. It’s a good thing that some of today’s resistance to change didn’t exist 150 years ago when the first water-pumping windmills went up on farms across the prairie.

      2. I appreciate a YIMBY though I suspect you are in the minority. If you don’t mind me asking, do you live in a place where these could actually be installed?

        1. Yes. We live in rural Frederick County, Maryland. Some of the farms near us are selling or leasing croplands to solar energy companies.

          I know of three largish solar arrays (20 to 100 acres) in our county. The county government itself has a 14-acre array atop a landfill. It supplies about 20 percent of the county government’s energy needs.

          Wind isn’t great in our immediate vicinity but ten miles to the west is the Blue Ridge mountain range. That relatively high ridge I imagine would be good for wind turbines, but there would be howls aplenty before they could go in. I’m pretty sure they will one day.

          1. Thanks Boyce – I was actually asking Ryan since he used the term YIMBY, but it sounds like you wouldn’t mind living next to a wind farm either?

            Since you mention Blue Ridge mountains, are there any places you think they shouldn’t be installed?

            Also, it’d be one thing if wind farms were cranking out a ton of energy per acre, but from what I can tell these things just need too much land. Another interesting-in-theory, not so great in practice solution. At least at this stage of the technology.


            “Expanding wind and solar by 10% annually until 2030 would require a chunk of land equal to the state of South Dakota, according to Princeton University estimates and an analysis by Bloomberg News.”

            A nice compact nuclear or natural gas plant on the other hand… 🙂

            1. I’m sure there are some places that would annoy people more than other places, but I haven’t thought much about it. Maybe Catoctin Mountain National Park, which abuts Camp David. Just to keep the sense of wilderness, such as it is.

              The whole Appalachian range offers many opportunities, especially in the many parallel ridges it has in Pennsylvania. Farther south there should be lots of good places right where coal mining used to be prominent. Mountaintop removals still left ridges that catch the wind.

              But given the increasing height of the turbine towers, many lowland sites should be acceptable. Also there are vast possibilities offshore along the East Coast.

              You mention nuclear. I actually think that some newer designs of nuclear reactors ought to be used more widely.

      3. Wilbur G VanDyke

        I agree.They are beautiful compared to sound walls along highways. I would not want a sound wall around me. I like to see action.

    12. Alex Knisely

      The Amish haven't been Luddite to date, so far as I know

      Conflict with the English world ? The Amish move away. They don’t break into the factories, destroy the looms, in hopes of restoring the one-cottage . one-spinning wheel economy. There’s no Ned Ludd of Nottingham to lead Amish mobs against the windmills. Let the Swartzentrubers decamp. It’s what they do.

      The windmills that Erik finds icky / creepy are, viewed as possible rescuers from the fossil-fuel, carbon-burning economy that truly threatens us — and the Amish ! — glorious.

      Dislike, even fear of the new, the unaccustomed, the DIFFERENT. Sad to see that stance embraced here.

    13. thom


      How are they threatened? I don’t see where they will be claiming Amish lands or farms. They just don’t want to live near them. That’s on them. It isn’t actually a hindrance to their way of life. They don’t seem to have the same objection to Electrical poles beside roads

      1. I think you just compared 40-foot stationary electrical poles running along already-existing roads…to 600-foot spinning turbines sprawling across tens of thousands of acres of land.

        1. Alex Knisely

          But again, Erik, there is no threat

          No dispossession. A different viewscape, surely. But beyond that ?

          Don’t load the discourse with words like “threat”, please. Until you can tell your readers, with assurance that comes from knowing that what you’re conveying is true — and not your confabulation, not your imposition or projection of your own aesthetic — don’t claim that the Amish community is “threatened”.

          You’re cleverer, and better, than to do that.

          1. Thanks coach 😀

            “Threat” certainly has more meanings than say, doing physical harm.

            As in say, threatening to maintaining a reasonably-undisturbed physical landscape in an area where they purchased homes and planted roots, having made considerable investment over many years to do so. They didn’t sign up for a colossal wind farm next door. Cramming one in against the wishes of these and other residents by hook or by crook is a threat. That’s certainly what it sounds like.

            So it’s a perfectly fine description. It just paints an energy solution that some like in a bad light. We could also discuss the word glorious I suppose.

            1. Alex Knisely

              Change as threat

              Well, there you are. I found the word “threat” to reflect an emotional response, as certainly “glorious” does as well.

              The landscape of which the Amish farms are a part will be different. Faith and Gelassenheit, if indeed those are Amish princiiples, might lead those who abide by them to say — We’ll like those windmills because they’re part of God’s plan for us, and we’ll live among them and admire them as marvels of a technology which we choose not to make our own, recognising that, as part of His plan for us. they are His works.

              Instead the windmills are “threats”. Or — When in worry, fear, or doubt // Run in circles, scream, and shout.

              I do wish that you would take the trouble to find out what a few of the local Amish actually think. But that would be journalism.

              1. Sorry to let you down, Alex. Be well

                1. Alex Knisely

                  "Sorry to let you down" --

                  — time to relieve you of any burden from my expectations. That is, time to Google “Amish” for myself once a week and see what shows up. Nix für ungut !

    14. The rural landscape does not exist as a scenic overlook.

      It sounds like the main objection is, “They’re ugly, and I don’t wanna look at ’em. So they shouldn’t be there, because even other people’s land exists for me to look at and find beautiful.”

      Ugliness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I think wind farms are beautiful, far more aesthetically pleasing in their clean geometric lines than the old-fashioned rural wind mills for pumping water and milling grain. I even find a field of wind turbines almost entrancing to look at, a meditative experience. But I realize not everyone feels that way. Ugliness and beauty are not, and never will be or can be, objective absolutes.

      When a forest is cut down or a meadow plowed up to plant crops, those who loved it in its natural state often do not find the resulting farmland beautiful. Other people do find beauty in wide expanses of farmland, even knowing that it means an equal acreage of wilderness has been lost, but even they do not necessarily find it beautiful when the farmer decides to raise hogs. (Some find pigs beautiful, while others find them almost unspeakably ugly.) Regardless of personal tastes, not all wilderness is a national park, for us to play in and enjoy looking at. Some must be cleared and plowed and planted and grazed, so that people in city and country alike will have enough to eat, whether everyone agrees that it is aesthetically pleasing or not. The farmer has a living to earn, not only for the farmer’s own family, but for everyone who eats.

      Wind turbines to produce electricity are another way that rural people earn a living, not only for themselves, but for all who will use the power generated. Beautiful or ugly, they are no more an infringement on onlookers’ rights than a pasture full of pigs, because, frankly, there is no right to see only what you find beautiful.

      Sometimes, the best solution is to find beauty in whatever is there for you to see.

    15. Brian Mast

      The big flip

      O.K., the powers that should not be continue shoving these sort of things down our throat! I recall Senator Kennedy opposing an offshore windmill within sight of his property some years ago. O.K., I have just searched for it, and here is what I found:
      I propose that our so-called leaders actual lead for once by allowing these things to be built near to or directly on their properties! Lets also put one on the White House lawn and close to the other government buildings, both federal and state level!
      I suspect they would come up the the exact same excuses for not wanting those things to be put up as the Amish and their English neighbors in that community.