MUNCIE – — Officials saw no signs of organized opposition to a proposed commercial wind farm during a recent informational meeting.
“You never know what will happen at the public hearing, but it was a meeting that lasted about an hour and no one really spoke against it,” Delaware County Commissioner Larry Bledsoe said.
The purpose of the meeting at the Farm Bureau Insurance building was to get public reaction to draft zoning regulations of wind farms.
The regulations are being put in place after E.ON Climate & Renewables North America expressed interest in developing a wind farm in eastern Delaware County. E.ON already has built the Wildcat 1 Wind Farm in neighboring Madison and Tipton counties.
The plan commission will conduct a public hearing on the proposed regulations in May or June, after which the county commissioners would take final action.
“Typically, we get public input at the plan commission’s public hearing,” Bledsoe said. “We wanted to have an informational meeting to get public input first, before we take it to the plan commission.”
That allows the public to be heard and revisions to be made to the draft regulations before the public hearing.
“It was a cordial meeting,” Bledsoe said. “There were upwards of 50 people in attendance.”
The discussion included regulation of wind turbine vibration, dismantling the wind farm at the end of its life, and requiring the developer to restore roads damaged during construction.
A representative of E.ON attended the meeting.
Some counties have welcomed wind farms because of the property tax revenue and lease payments to land owners that are generated. But because of public opposition to their appearance and intrusiveness, Dekalb County enacted regulations to keep a wind farm out.
The Delaware County wind farm is proposed in the same general area where Duke Energy once planned to build a peaking power plant, which generally runs only when there is a high demand for electricity. But Duke abandoned plans for the project because of strong opposition, including protests from Garfield cartoonist Jim Davis.
“It was a good discussion of how to deal with a wind farm,” Joe Russell, vice president of Delaware County Farm Bureau, said of the wind farm meeting. “There is still plenty of time for people to provide input or suggestions.”
The wind farm would generally occupy land between Ind. 28 and Ind. 32 east of the community of Desoto, Russell said, and would include part of Randolph County.
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