Tipton – The attorney for opponents of the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm believe juwi Wind missed the deadline to modify setback requirements for the project.
The Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals on March 21 approved a conditional use permit for the proposed wind farm in Liberty and Jefferson townships, requiring juwi Wind to adhere to a 1,500-foot setback from the property line of nonparticipating property owners and a property value guarantee.
The company submitted modifications to the BZA conditions May 23. The company requested the Tipton County Plan Commission change the setback to 1,400 feet from a residence and 750 feet from the property line of non-participating property owners, and 1,250 feet from the residence of participating property owners.
Pat Hess, attorney for Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development, sent a letter last Friday to Steve Edson, director of the Tipton County Plan Commission, stating the company wants to modify the BZA conditions and replace them with their own.
Hess said the most troubling aspect of the modification deals with the juwi Wind’s request to cut the setback requirements in half.
In his letter, Hess said the appropriate way to challenge a condition is to seek judicial review of the BZA decision with a local court within 30 days.
“They are seeking an extra legal process that is not allowed by state law or local ordinance,” Hess said Wednesday. “They lost their opportunity to appeal after 30 days.”
Edson said Wednesday he referred Hess’ letter to Tipton County attorney John Brooke for review. Edson wants Brooke to weigh in before a meeting of the BZA is set to discuss the procedures, and when and if a hearing will take place on the requested setback modification and the property value guarantee plan.
“It is not unheard of for the BZA to modify conditions,” Edson said. “The BZA can review requested modifications to the conditions that were set.”
Edson said juwi Wind didn’t submit a new application for a conditional use permit, but did file an application for modifications of the conditions.
He said the request is being considered a part of the original application.
Hess said if the BZA decides to conduct a hearing on the requested modifications, project opponents will seek an injunction to stop it.
“The Board of Zoning Appeals made a request in granting the approval of Prairie Breeze Wind Farm. We responded, directly, based on the board’s comments and input offered at the public hearing. The application for modification of conditions is the appropriate process to do so, supported by Indiana statute. Our application is an effort to positively move forward with the approval of the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm,” said Michael Rucker, CEO of juwi Wind North America, Wednesday.
The BZA could accept or reject the property value guarantee plan submitted by juwi Wind, Hess said.
The company submitted a plan that will cover residential property within three-quarters of a mile from a wind turbine and involve only the first sale after Prairie Breeze goes into operation.
The company will send a notice to nearby property owners before an improvement location permit is requested, notifying them to sign up for the property value guarantee program.
Part of the submitted plan puts the property value at between 100 percent and 115 percent of the appraised value, and juwi Wind can make an offer to purchase the property.
The maximum amount that juwi would be required to spend on the property value guarantee is $1 million.
The value will be based on an appraisal or the average of more than one appraisal, and the guarantee only covers differences greater than 10 percent between the value and a sale price.
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