At the Oct. 16 Tipton County Plan Commission public hearing on industrial wind turbines, I presented the percentages of people attending meetings voicing opinions on the wind issue. In each case, including the 75 percent that night, the majority has consistently spoken against the placement of turbines in our county.
I consider it contempt of the democratic system that a majority of the eight men on the plan commission could not vote with the majority of the citizens.
New member Carroll Cohee made a motion to adopt an ordinance that was presented to the board that evening by the proponents. Unbelievably, there were two other members who supported Mr. Cohee’s effort to rush something through that the public knew nothing about.
New member Harry Diamond made an eight-minute proposal that neither the public nor the board members had any knowledge of prior to the meeting, and therefore was out of order.
Newest member Jeff Wessel, who does not live in the county and has been employed as the county ag extension educator for one month, voted for the motion submitted by the turbine proponents. One of the presenters of that proposal is on the county extension board that hired Mr. Wessel.
A motion was made by member Jim Ashley for the complete ban of the Commercial WECS, setting the limitations as proposed by Marshall County, Ind. This resulted in a 4-4 tie.
Mr. Ashley then motioned to accept the amendments that were made available for inspection to the public prior to the meeting, but in his motion he also created a new zoning classification and designated the geographical area where that zone would be. This passed 5 to 3. However, there cannot be a change to the zone map without the public first being made aware of where that change is going to be, and the landowners in that area properly notified. Mr. Ashley’s error went unnoticed by the plan director and all other members. The motion was not consistent with how the Indiana Code outlines the process for amending the zone map.
The planning commission is to submit its recommendation to the Board of Commissioners, but its recommendation for a change to the zone text together with a change to the zone map is illegal. It seems the only proper motion made that night was for the full ban. A tie is neither a “no” or a “yes” vote. The commissioners should do the job they were elected to do and end this countywide controversy by making a decision that is consistent with the majority of the people.
The current nine-member advisory plan commission has the responsibility of making a decision that will forever change the lives and landscape of this county. All four of the “no” votes on the “ban” motion were cast by men who each have less than one year of experience on the plan commission. One is an ineligible member but was appointed anyway. Another doesn’t live in this county and has been on the plan commission one month. Another has immediate relatives who are wind farm leaseholders, and the fourth has publicly stated he is in favor of industrial wind farm development “no matter what the people think.”
Of the four men who voted for the ban, three are elected officials and the fourth is a veteran member of the plan commission. How does the public feel that the four novice members, elected by no one and voting against the ban, may have determined the fate of this county?
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