How far is far enough? As Tipton County attempts to revise its wind ordinance, it is looking to an ad hoc committee to help decide what would be an acceptable setback for a wind turbine.
The committee, made up of opponents and proponents of wind energy, presented its recommendations to the Tipton County Plan Commission Thursday, including proposals for noise, shadow flicker and lighting on turbines.
Jason Henderson, president of the plan commission, who sat in on the committee meetings, said the group couldn’t reach a consensus on setbacks and a property value guarantee.
Committee proposed a litany of regulations, dealing with distances from city and county lines to parks and buildings.
The proposal included a setback of 2,640 feet from incorporated areas and county lines measured from the center of the wind turbine to the corporation limits; a 1,250 foot setback from any park; increasing the setback for non-participating landowners from 1,000 to 1,500 feet measured from the nearest corner of a structure and 1,050 feet from participating landowners.
“There was no consensus on property line setbacks,” Henderson reported.
The discussion ranged from 1.1 times the height of a turbine (1,050 feet) to 1,700 feet.
Jim Ashley, a member of the plan commission, said the county should consider safety regulations recommended by turbine companies when reaching a decision.
“We have an obligation to protect the public safety,” he said. “We have heard no testimony on safety measures and the property value guarantee. The Board of Zoning Appeals did. They determined 1,500 feet from the property line was acceptable.”
Henderson said the committee could not agree on which properties should be included in a property value guarantee, with proposals ranging from three-quarters of a mile to two miles.
They also discussed penalizing wind companies that didn’t pony up right away when a seller is due the difference between the asking and actual prices. The committee suggested companies should have 10 days before being charged 1 percent interest each month.
Commission member Harry Diamond suggested wind developers should pay an annual stipend to neighboring properties of $2,500 that would be transferable to new owners.
“If a property owner signs a good neighbor agreement and a turbine is located closer than three-quarters of a mile, they would receive compensation and be excluded from any property value guarantee,” he said. “The money could be used to improve the property, offset any losses and encourage buyers.”
Henderson said a sticking point, in addition to the distance to be covered by a property value guarantee, was the life of the guarantee with discussions ranging from five years to the life of the project.
Helen Tragesser, a plan commission member, said both wind energy companies in Tipton County indicated there would be no impact on property values and said the two-mile distance should be utilized in the ordinance.
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