A new set of rules will govern the building and use of wind turbines in Lafayette, West Lafayette and rural Tippecanoe County.
The two city councils and the county commissioners approved an ordinance Monday that will regulate where the wind turbines, which generate electricity, may stand within each of their jurisdictions. The new rules are in response to the likelihood that a company will soon want to build a wind farm – or large number of the turbines – in the county, as is already happening in Benton County.
At the county commissioners meeting, two residents objected to the new ordinance. Joe Rogers, who lives on the eastern edge of the county, said it would forbid him from having built a wind turbine such as the one that now stands on his property. The tower is 120 feet tall and the county’s ordinance prohibits it from being above 100 feet.
“If they would change it to 150 feet, I would be great,” he said, adding the winds often blow faster at higher altitudes.
Sallie Fahey, executive director of the Tippecanoe Area Plan Commission, said she wants to study the effects of the height limit before proposing an amendment to the ordinance.
“Our bigger concern has to do with aviation,” she said.
Beyond that height rule, the new ordinance will also:
# Allow wind turbines to be erected in various business, industrial or agricultural zones as long as the builder first obtains a special exception from the Area Board of Zoning Appeals.
# Require that the wind turbines stand a certain number of feet away from both public streets and other structures.
Brian Vorst, who lives on County Road 800 West, said he would like the ordinance to contain language that prohibits a company from running within a certain number of feet of a residence power lines connected to a wind turbine. Having them close to a house could lower its value and endanger the residents, he said.”You can’t do anything about it if your neighbor says it’s OK to have 400 megawatts running on his property. I’m sure most people don’t want that.”
He said a representative BP Alternate Energy of Houston has asked him and his neighbors if the company might run an electrical line through his yard. They would come from wind farm BP Alternate is building in Benton County and go to a substation in Montmorenci. The residents have refused, but Vorst is worried about what might happen if someone moves away.
A representative of BP Alternate could not be reached for this article.
Sallie Fahey, said she and the county lawyer are looking at the county’s current regulations to see if they contain any of the protections that Vorsts wants. If not, they will likely propose an amendment the ordinance.
By Dan Shaw
7 August 2007
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