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Progress made in getting wind farm issue to JPC

An agreement was reached Tuesday between opponents of a possible wind turbine farm in May’s Lick and county officials on how to proceed in getting the wind farm issue before the Maysville-Mason County Joint Planning Commission.

Prior to the beginning of the regular meeting of Mason County Fiscal Court, Judge-Executive James L. “Buddy” Gallenstein, County Attorney John Estill and May’s Lick resident Joe Pfeffer, who also serves as the spokesperson for Citizens Voice of Mason County met to discuss a proposal to hire an outside, unbiased consultant to draw up a plan of action, which would in turn be given to the JPC. The JPC is charged by the fiscal court to address and implement zoning issues in the county and opponents of the wind turbine farm have been lobbying for several months to have the issue put before the JPC.

Estill explained to those in attendance a meeting has already taken place between himself, Gallenstein and four May’s Lick residents to discuss the wind farm: two of the residents oppose the wind farm and two are in favor of the wind farm.

Estill said while there wasn’t much common ground reached, it was a nice, open discussion that didn’t lead to a solution but did open up discussion about the process (of zoning, setbacks, etc.).

One question that needs to be answered is if wind turbine systems are a proper use of land zoned A-2, and if so, what is reasonable use, Estill said.

It was also noted that officials on the state level were in attendance at last month’s fiscal court meeting. Kate Shanks, with the department of renewable energy under the Kentucky Environmental Protection Cabinet was at the meeting and has asked what the state can do to help the county as it makes its way through the pros and cons of the subject.

Commissioners Annette Walters said Mason County is the guinea pig for the state in relation to wind turbine farms in Kentucky and Gallenstein agreed, saying state assistance is being offered because the issue is so new to the state.

Members of the fiscal court, as well as Citizens Voice of Mason County agreed to contact James Madison University Professor Maria Papadakis, who has been recommended by Shanks and Dr. Glen Peters, secretary of the Environmental Protection Cabinet. Papadakis is a professor in the JMU Department of Integrated Science and Technology with research interests in energy management and on-farm energy use. If Papadakis agrees to contract with the county, she will serve as a arbitrator who will meet with citizens both for and against the wind turbine farm, and county officials to draw up a plan for presentation of the JPC.

“The result is that all parties want to get it right and we understand we are not in a foot race with Duke Energy,” said Estill.

Commissioners agreed to proceed with a dialog with Papadakis about contracting with the county.

In other business, the court:

— Discussed moving forward with removal of several hundred tires at the former Minerva School site to insure the asbestos covered tires are properly disposed of.

— Discussed the future of the former May’s Lick School Apartments, which have been vacant due to sewer system problems. County officials discussed boarding up the lower level windows of the building to secure the property since the owners of the property live out-of-state under jurisdiction of the county’s nuisance ordinance.