A topic that warrants immediate and considerable debate in the discussion of wind farms in Tipton County is infringement on property rights, if the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm or any other further expansion of wind turbines moves forward without a change to the ordinance that governs the placement of the turbines.
The ordinance, as written, allows for wind turbines to be as close as 1,000 feet from a residence. Informally, yet in practice, the wind energy companies have agreed to 1,250-foot setbacks from residences. However, a great infringement on property rights has already occurred in the Wildcat Wind Farm and is set to occur in the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm with the current setback requirements.
The key issue here is that the setbacks are measured from a person’s residence, NOT their property line. In plain language, this means, as a property owner, whether a leaseholder for a turbine or not, you have now lost the right to use your land as you desire between your house and your property line, since use of that land is usurped by the 1,000-foot radius around the wind turbine.
When this point was raised at a planning commission meeting, it was acknowledged that property owners would have to obtain approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals in order to build a structure on any land between their home and the wind turbine. This is an undue burden on Tipton County property owners.
By far, this is the largest infringement on property rights in Tipton County history.
Having the nearly 500-foottall industrial wind turbines covering the landscape of our county is controversial enough, but the blatant infringement on property rights with the ordinance as written should make all Tipton County citizens seriously concerned.
All further expansion of wind turbines in Tipton County, including the imminent Prairie Breeze development, should be put on hold at least until the ordinance is revised to protect the property rights of ALL property owners, both leaseholders with wind energy companies and non-leaseholders.
Nathan D. Salsbery