That’s all the time wind farm developers in Tippecanoe County should need to get the first generator up and running once granted a special exception to proceed, area plan commission members agreed 9-1 Wednesday.
The APC’s recommendation – to expand the time frame to establish use under a special exception, from one year to 18 months, for wind farms only – was something of a setback for Invenergy Wind LLC.
The company had initially asked for three years in which to establish use. Then, during an APC committee meeting last month, the company agreed to a two-year window, which the APC committee endorsed.
Under the current zoning ordinance, a special exception that’s granted for any project becomes void after one year if the use for which the special exception was granted has not been established.
Wind energy representatives had argued that due to the complexity of planning for wind farms, more time was needed.
Landowners who opposed wind farms argued against any enlargement of time.
The revised special exception, if approved by county commissioners, would apply to any wind farm. The Invenergy project involves calls for construction of wind turbines in southwestern Tippecanoe County.
“We don’t think, even in the best-case scenario, they need two years,” said Julie Peretin, one of about 20 people who attended the meeting to lobby against the company’s request.
“Our compromise is 16 months. We’ll give them another season. We want to know exactly where those towers will be.”
Jim Pairitz, who lives in West Point near the proposed wind farm, said granting the developer more time would further harm property owners.
“People can’t put their lives on hold and wait for that long. That’s important for people who are nonparticipating,” Pairitz said.
County commissioner David Byers, who also serves on the APC, said the special exception question boils down to one of property rights.
“We have the toughest ordinance in the state of Indiana. Other counties are calling us to get our ordinance,” said Byers, who successfully called Wednesday for reducing the proposed time frame from two years to 18 months.
After the 9-1 vote to recommend the 18-month special exception, Greg Leuchtmann, development manager with Invenergy, said the company will try to work within the recommendation.
“It’s a different schedule than what we’d hoped for,” Leuchtmann said.
The recommendation from the plan commission now goes to county, city and town governing bodies for a final vote, with the exception of Shadeland/Union Township, which has not adopted the Unified Zoning Ordinance.
Invenergy has not yet applied for the special exception, so the clock is not yet ticking.
The special exception request is scheduled to be voted on by the county commissioners July 5.
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