August 1, 2013

Board won’t change wind turbine setback; Prairie Breeze development future called into question

By Ken de la Bastide | Kokomo Tribune | August 1, 2013 |

TIPTON – The future of the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in northern Tipton County was thrown into question when the Board of Zoning Appeals voted not to consider a change in the setback conditions.To a round of applause and cheering from members of the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development, the Tipton County BZA voted 3 to 1 Wednesday to not consider a request from juwi Wind to modify the 1,500 foot setback requirement from the property line of non-participating landowners.

Developers of the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm, juwi Wind, in May asked the BZA to consider modifiying the setback requirement, which was imposed in March as part of a conditional use permit.

At the time, juwi Wind officials said the project couldn’t move forward with a 1,500-foot setback.The modifications request would have changed 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.BZA President Jerry Acres opened the meeting by expressing concerns over the procedure for modifying the conditions.“This is unusual,” Acres said. “No county in Indiana has allowed such a request. It will undermine the integrity and credibility of the board.“There is nothing in our ordinance that addresses the modifications of conditions,’ he said. “There are no guidelines on how such a request should be considered.”Acres said the request was a “do over” in his opinion. He said it would set a precedent that if an applicant is not happy with a decision, they could seek modifications.“The board decision is final and always has been,” he said.BZA member Carroll Cohee, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said Tipton County Attorney John Brooke said the board is sanctioned to consider modifications and it should be heard.Brooke said there is not an absolute right for a review.“The board makes the determination of what can be heard,” he said. “Your procedures and by-laws are silent on the issue.”Following the vote, Pat Heck, attorney for the CRD, said the decision came as a surprise because the meeting was believed to be focused on setting the procedures for a public hearing on the juwi request.“The BZA can be in charge of its own procedures,” he said. “Our position was always that they shouldn’t consider modifications. The board agreed with our view.”

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