AUBURN – DeKalb County’s wind energy ordinance has received a lot of attention in 2011.
Planning Director Clint Knauer said his office has been working on the ordinance since April in an attempt to pre-empt any wind energy companies setting up in DeKalb County and playing by their own rules.
The proposed ordinance sets restrictions and regulations that wind energy farms would have to follow if they wish to build in DeKalb County.
Two public meetings were held last summer to gain input on how the ordinance should be written and what should be included. The topic became heated, and wind turbine opponents became vocal.
DeKalb 9/12, a local conservative political group, has spearheaded the opposition to wind farms. The group has said the ordinance needs to be strict to make it hard for any wind farm to come in the county, including half-mile setbacks from surrounding property lines. Setbacks of that size would eliminate most areas in the county as turbine sites.
“We find there are short-lived advantages to a select few” from wind famrs, said Judy Watson, a leader of DeKalb 9/12, at a Dec. 21 meeting of the DeKalb County Plan Commission.
Opponents cite possible health problems and decreasing property values among their list of concerns with wind energy.
County officials say they don’t want to write an ordinance that is too one-sided on the issue.
“We’re not saying yes or no,” said DeKalb County Commissioner Don Grogg of Auburn. “If they do come, we want them to play by our rules. We want to have our ducks in a row.”
Wind energy companies are looking at DeKalb County. A Spain-based company, EOSOL America, erected a tower to measure wind velocity on C.R. 4 near Ashley in November 2010. EOSOL has conducted private meetings to explain the benefits of wind turbines to some rural landowners in the county, handing out potential agreements to lease 25 acres of land per windmill.
Wind companies have also began talking with planning directors in LaGrange, Noble and Steuben counties.
This makes passing an ordinance important, Grogg said.
“If they come in now, they could build one however they want,” he said.
Even if commissioners adopt the ordinance at their Jan. 23 meeting, Grogg said, changes would be easy to make if new information becomes available, since the topic of wind energy isn’t likely to lose velocity in 2012.
“You can have this ordinance get done and still reserve the right to tweak it and change things,” Grogg said. “We can always take another look and modify it.”
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