August 5, 2013

Tipton working on wind ordinance; Citizens ad hoc committee to make recommendations

By Ken de la Bastide | Kokomo Tribune | August 5, 2013 |

Changes in the Tipton County wind ordinance could be considered by the county commissioners as early as September following action by the Plan Commission.

A moratorium on any future wind energy development until Oct. 1 or a review of the wind ordinance was completed was imposed by the Tipton County Commissioners earlier this year. The moratorium didn’t impact the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm, which received approval of a conditional use permit in March with two conditions including a 1,500-foot setback from property lines and creation of a property value guarantee.

Plan Commission members Thursday discussed several possible changes in the existing wind ordinance including approval procedures, setbacks, noise levels and property value guarantees.

With the Oct. 1 deadline looming, Helen Tragesser, a Plan Commission member, said any revisions have to be completed by September to conduct two public hearings to revise the wind ordinance.

Commissioner Joe VanBibber said he didn’t have a sense of urgency when it came to the Oct. 1 deadline, that the date could be changed.

“This board has to take a stand,” he said of the Plan Commission.

VanBibber said the Plan Commission has to consider changes in the approval process for wind farms in the future.

He doesn’t support continuing approval by the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals, but would support creation of overlay zoning districts where the projects would be allowed.

Plan Commission member Jim Ashley said an overlay district would divide property owners.

“It could be all or nothing,” he said of future wind farms in the county. “We don’t want wind farm development in our agricultural areas. Allow them to cover the entire country or live with what we have.”

VanBibber said the BZA approval of the wind farms was not good for the county.

“We need to decide in the ordinance where a wind farm can be located,” he said. “The BZA situation is not fair to either side.”

Ashley said the BZA process is the closest the county gets to hearing from local residents.

“The ordinance has to reflect the views of the community,” he said.

Tragesser said she supports the current process over an overlay district.

“We don’t have the right to save somebody and destroy someone else,” she said in terms of the placement of wind turbines in the county.

The Plan Commission on Thursday asked an ad hoc committee consisting of six local residents to bring back a recommendation by Aug. 15 on setbacks from wind turbines, shadow flicker, noise levels and a property value guarantee.

This serving on the committee are three members of the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development, opposed to wind farm development and includes Jeff Hoover, Mark Lynn and Jeff Thomas. The other three members are property owners in the area of the Prairie Breeze Wind farm including Chris Kelly, Tom McKinney and Jenny Mundel.

Jason Henderson, president of the Plan Commission, said the hope is the ad hoc committee will bring two or three recommendations for each section of the current wind ordinance.

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