November 18, 2010

Whitley County wind farm ordinance blown away

By John W. Davis, Indiana's NewsCenter, 18 November 2010

It is back to the drawing board for a wind ordinance in Whitley County.

Indiana’s Newscenter attended Wednesday night’s packed Whitley County Plan Commission meeting and learned the controversial ordinance will not be voted on anytime soon.

About 200 people packed a meeting room at the Whitley County Government Center in downtown Columbia City.

However, the room was so full, some attendees had to watch and strain their ears to hear from the hallway.

Most of the residents at the meeting were against the proposal.

Only two people spoke in support of the ordinance.

They said wind farms would bring temporary and permanent jobs and green energy.

However, more than a dozen spoke against the ordinance.

They said wind turbines needed to be further than the proposed 1,200 feet from homes.

They also said they would be too noisy and lower nearby property values.

The hottest topic of the meeting surrounded Plan Commission President David Schilling.

Schilling did not attend Wednesday’s meeting because he was prepared to abstain from voting.

His reasoning, he signed a lease agreement to rent his land to the Wind Captial Group back in June 2010.

However, he did not inform other board members of his potential conflict of interest until October 2010.

Board members and citizens agreed that Schilling created a conflict of interest and tainted the whole ordinance process.

Now they must start completely over.

“Once that’s cleared up and out of the way, I think that maybe what we need to move forward and get a good ordinance put together. Nothing against the land owner or the board member but I think the perception there is what’s important,” said Whitley County Plan Commission Member Michael Schrader.

The Whitley County Plan Commission has been working on a wind ordinance since March 2010.

However, neighbors feel like they just learned about it in October.

Commission members said they followed state law by posting information about meeting in the local newspaper.

Meanwhile, the next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 15.

At that time, Plan Commission members will restart all discussion of a potential wind ordinance.

Officials said the ordinance would set rules and regulations and guidelines for any potential wind farm projects.

Wind Capital Group is the company considering wind farms in Whitley County.

Project Development Director John Doster II said Wind Capital Group respects the Plan Commission’s decision.

URL to article: