SHARPSVILLE – Although the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals approved a conditional use permit for the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm, members of group opposed to the development believe they walked away with a victory.
The BZA approved juwi Wind’s request for the permit but imposed conditions including a 1,500 foot setback from adjacent property lines from the nearest wind turbine and guarantee of property values for non- participating property owners.
Jeff Hoover with the Tipton County Citizen’s for Responsible Development, said had the conditional use permit been denied juwi Wind could have reapplied in six months.
“This means they can’t reapply in six months,” he said. “They can pull the application and come back in the future.”
The 1,500-foot setback requirement is more than the 1,000-foot setback from the nearest building that is part of the Tipton County wind ordinance.
“The 1,500-foot setback from the property line kills the whole deal.” Hoover said. “There is no property in the proposed wind farm area that will allow for the placement of a turbine. They can’t build within 1,000 feet of a county road.”
Hoover said no one knows how the property value guarantee will be administered since the BZA didn’t set guidelines and directed juwi Wind to submit a proposal for approval.
The CRD attorney Pat Heck has sent a letter to the Tipton County Plan Commission stating the group’s condition for the property value guarantee, he said.
Those conditions include: The inclusion of all non- participating property owners within three miles of the wind farm; guarantee must be bonded and insured to cover losses of all involved properties; juwi Wind would be responsible for any tax liabilities incurred by the property owner if they receive monetary compensation; and no property value loss for a non- participating homeowner is acceptable.
“We’re trying to protect everyone in the area of the proposed wind farm,” Hoover said. “The three-mile requirement protects the property owners in the Chippendale subdivision.”
Hoover said the top priority for the CRD is the imposing a moratorium on all wind farm applications until the wind ordinance is amended and the new county comprehensive plan is approved.
The group urged Howard County residents to approach the commissioners about a moratorium in the county. Hoover said E. ON Climate & Renewables could located more than 600 wind turbines in Howard, Grant and Tipton counties as part of the Wildcat Wind Farm development.
He said people in Howard County have to establish guidelines to steer development in the right direction.
“The battle is along way from being over,” he said. “We want to concentrate on how we want the wind ordinance to be written.”
John West, president of the CRD, said currently there are no penalties in the ordinance for non-compliance and no complaint procedure.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep a deal from being made in a back room,” he said.
The CRD is going to request a two- mile setback between a wind turbine and a non- participating property owner, but that will be tough to achieve, Hoover admitted.
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