TIPTON – A formal complaint contending the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals violated the state’s Open Door Law on July 31 has been filed with the Indiana Public Access Counselor.
The complaint was filed by the Citizen’s Action Coalition alleging that the notice of the meeting did not indicate that the BZA would be taking any action on the request of juwi Wind for modifications to the setback requirement for the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in northwestern Tipton County.
“We would like the BZA to follow the law and conduct a transparent and fair public hearing,” Kerwin Olsen, executive director of the CAC, said in a written statement. “We are hopeful the [Public Access Counselor] will use the authority granted his office and correct this wrong.
“Embedded in our mission statement is preserving democracy, so this current conversation in Tipton County is at the very core of CAC’s work,” he said. “Additionally, we are also a strong supporter of local, sustainable development and clean, renewable energy. It appears that discrimination and bias against renewable energy has tainted the entire process, which will potentially steer badly-needed investment and jobs away from Tipton County and our entire state.”
The PAC has until Sept. 30 to issue an opinion on the complaint and the BZA has until Sept. 16 to respond.
This is the second action regarding the BZA meeting being in violation of the Open Door Law. Last week, juwi Wind filed a petition seeking judicial review of the board’s action and that the July 31 meeting was in violation of the state law.
BZA President Jerry Acres opened the meeting stating his opinion that the board should not consider modifying the setback requirement of 1,500 which was made a condition when the BZA approved a conditional use permit for the wind farm.
The board voted 3-to-1 to deny the request from juwi Wind without conducting a public hearing or allowing testimony from the company, affected landowners and the public.
Listed on the BZA agenda for the July 31 meeting under new business was a discussion for the public hearing on juwi Wind’s property value guarantee proposal.
The official minutes of the meeting, included in the CAC complaint, Acres said no public hearings were scheduled and hadn’t met since March 20 to hear any of the requested modifications to the conditional use permit for the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm.
John Brooke, Tipton County attorney, said the BZA could decide whether or not to hear the requested modification. In an opinion to the board, Brooke made the decision to allow the request to modify the setback.
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