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Opposition to wind farm increases

SELMA – Opposition to a possible wind farm in Delaware County is growing.

An overflow crowd of about 75 people showed up at a city-county plan commission meeting on May 2 to voice objections to a potential wind farm.

The opponents then conducted a meeting of their own last week attended by about 125 people.

One of the organizers, Kathy Gresh, a hospital office worker, told The Star Press many Delaware County residents still “don’t know anything about this.”

“We’re still trying to get the word out to everybody,” Gresh said.

While many Indiana counties have adopted zoning ordinances requiring a setback of at least 1,000 feet between a commercial wind turbine and a residential dwelling unit, “we are asking for a minimum setback of two miles,” Gresh said.

That’s 10,560 feet.

“Our rural population in Delaware County is so much greater than in other counties,” Gresh said. “It’s more like a city in the rural area of Delaware County. We’re just too populated (for a wind farm). No one is opposed to green energy. That’s not our dispute. But there’s a place for these, and it’s not in the middle of our neighborhoods.”

The plan commission is considering a zoning amendment that would permit wind farms in farming zones and also establish regulations, including setback distances between wind turbines and residences.

During the May 2 meeting, plan commission director Marta Moody proposed a setback distance of 1,320 feet, based on the research findings of a committee named by the commission to study the issue.

But based on opposition, the commission voted to postpone action on the ordinance at least until its June 6 meeting.

Opponents want to host another meeting before the scheduled June 6 meeting.

“Our next step is to publicly invite the county commissioners and the plan commission to a meeting to answer some questions we still don’t have answers to,” Gresh said. “And to hear more of our concerns before they vote on the 6th.”

Wind farm developer E.ON Climate & Renewables has leased thousands of acres in Delaware County for a possible wind farm. Officials from the company have made a presentation to a property tax abatement committee of county government. They also attended the plan commission’s last meeting.

Among the opponents’ concerns: noise, property values, fragments of blades breaking up in high winds and being thrown toward residences and ice being thrown from blades.