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Tipton Co considers changes to wind farm regulations

It may get more difficult to build a wind farm in Tipton County.

Plan commissioners considered revisions to the ordinance that regulates wind turbine farms in the county Wednesday evening.

“This issue has been going on for about 10-12 months, and it’s permeated everything in county government, from attending health board meetings to attending library board meetings and discussing it. It has really divided the county, so we’re just looking to get to a good resolution,” said Jason Henderson, Chairman of the Tipton County Plan Commission.

After a nearly five hour long meeting, members of the commission voted to pass two proposals, explained Jim Ashley, one of the nine members of the Plan Commission.

The first, only allows wind turbines in a newly designated area, called a WECS [Wind Energy Conversion Systems] overlay zone. That, for now, is where Tipton County’s current wind farm is.

The second proposal increases the distance a turbine has to be: 2640 feet from a residence, and 1500 feet from a property line.

A ban on wind turbines failed after a vote. The proposals will ultimately need approval by the County Commission.

Tipton County’s Wildcat Wind Farm on the northeast side of the county went up in 2012. Another, on the city’s northwest side, got the go-ahead from the county earlier this year: with some restrictions. That project is now tied up in court.

The ordinance revisions considered Wednesday address future endeavors in wind energy.

Hundreds showed up to the plan commission meeting, both to show support and opposition to wind farms. One after the other, they explained to the planning commission how they felt – many speaking out in opposition to wind farms in general.

“We want to see these turbines banned. You cannot fix these problems,” said Jerry Hunt. “You can flash these dollar signs all you want, but the fact of the matter is, wind farm people, you created these complaints.”

“We have the opportunity to take free never exhausting wind, and generate electricity we so desperately need,” added another resident. “I want to be proud of our county to be a leader in the alternative energy movement.”

“Indiana is in dire need of cleaner, cheaper, renewable energy options that represent the least cost resource for taxpayers and ratepayers,” explained Lindsay Shipps, with Citizens Action Coalition, a non-profit that advocates for renewable energy. “We think it sends a bad signal to business [to toughen the ordinance].”

“When the wind goes away, we will go away,” added Mark Lynn, a member of the group against wind farms, called Citizens for Responsible Development.

“We have had nothing but heartache since we returned in spring and these monsters were running. They are noisy,” added a resident who lives on Tipton County’s Wildcat Wind Farm right now.

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