TIPTON – Members of the Tipton County Plan Commission are divided on revisions to the county’s wind ordinance.
Should a moratorium on wind farm developments be extended? Do residents even support wind energy development?
Commission members grappled with these issues and others during a Thursday meeting.
“I thought there were places wind farms would be acceptable in Tipton County,” commission member Jim Ashley, who is also a member of the Tipton County Council, said. “I agree we have a minority of vocal opponents against wind energy. But there is not a majority of residents in favor of wind energy. There is little or no support for wind turbines in Tipton County.”
Jason Henderson, president of the plan commission, said the board is considering how to regulate a potential industry in the county.
“We could make the ordinance so stringent that we can’t have a wind farm; some people want that,” he said.
Ashley advocated for a two or three year moratorium on wind farm developments, stating the ongoing debate is distracting Tipton County from addressing other issues.
“A two- or three-year moratorium creates an effective referendum,” he said. “The voters will decide.”
Commission member Mike Terry suggested a moratorium through Dec. 31, 2014, to allow time to revise the wind ordinance and to gather information from the Wildcat Wind Farm.
What would change if the moratorium was extended? Tipton County Commissioner Joe VanBibber asked.
“What more information will you inundate me with? The worst option is a 16-month moratorium,” he said. “The community needs a decision.”
Ashley said if a longer moratorium was put in place, the plan commission would know if noise and telephone and television interference complaints around the Wildcat Wind Farm have been resolved.
Plan commission member Helen Tragesser said if county officials worked to bring in a small manufacturing plant it would employ more people than a wind farm.
“We need to attract and retain young families,” she said. “We’re responsible for the health and safety of all the residents. There are people who care about the community.”
A moratorium on new wind farm applications is set to expire Oct. 1.
The Plan Commission will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Tipton County Foundation to continue discussing changes to the wind ordinance.
The wind ordinance was adopted by Tipton County in 2009 and since that time has been used to approve the Wildcat Wind Farm developed by E.ON Climate & Renewables and the approved Prairie Breeze Wind Farm proposed by juwi Wind.
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