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Tipton extends wind moratorium  

Credit:  By Martin Slagter | Kokomo Tribune | December 17, 2013 | www.kokomotribune.com ~~

Unless the Tipton County Plan Commission clarifies language in the revised wind ordinance, no wind farms will be built in the county next year.

The Tipton County Board of Commissioners Monday voted to extend a moratorium on new wind energy developments through the end of 2014. The measure passed 2-1, with Commissioner Mike Cline dissenting.

The moratorium lasts until Dec. 31, 2014, but could be withdrawn if modifications are made to the ordinance before that.

The plan commission recommended changes to the ordinance in October, but Commissioner Phil Heron said concerns remain about clarity of the language. Heron said he felt the commissioners needed to make sure they had more clearly written language in the amendments before submitting changes to the planning commission, including details about base ambient sound levels and what is considered a rural residential district.

Cline indicated the plan commission already had ample time to get an ordinance in place, but it did not allow enough time for the commissioners to review and modify the proposal before the current moratorium ended.

Extending the moratorium another year, Cline said, does not create the necessary sense of urgency.

“We’ve already gone through this once before,” Cline said of previous moratoriums set by the board. “My points were that the moratorium in the past should have been a motivator to the plan commission to hurry up and get their act together and to finalize their ordinance, which they didn’t do. That’s why I’m opposed to a long-term moratorium, because if the plan commission has a whole year, then what is the urgency to hurry up and work on it?”

After the plan commission approved the ordinance in October, county commissioners were given 90 days to take action on it. They may approve the amendments, deny the amendments or send the measure back to the plan commission for modifications. The deadline for action is Feb. 4.

Commissioner Joe VanBibber approved of the moratorium, but still pressed Heron to move forward with modifications by the end of this year.

“I’m asking for a personal commitment that this is not a tactic to delay or relieve our or the plan commission’s responsibility to enact this ordinance timely,” he said, addressing Heron. “By timely, I mean this calendar year, where we send this amendment back to the planning commission.”

The proposed changes approved in October would move wind turbine setbacks to 1,500 feet from a property line, 2,640 feet from a residential dwelling and one mile from a city, town or county boundary.

The noise level will be set at 5 decibels over ambient levels, shadow flicker will be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes per day and 30 hours per year, and steps will have to be taken to shield the flashing red lights on the top of each wind turbine.

After hearing criticism that the plan commission had not acted promptly, Planning Commission President Jason Henderson said a number of issues, including the conditional use permit approved by the Tipton Board of Zoning Appeals for the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm and loss of commission members, have led to some of the hang-ups.

Henderson said he believes the moratorium is a good idea and that he looks forward to working with the board of commissioners once amendments are submitted to the plan commission.

“Commissioner Cline was right that a motion was made earlier this year to take up the wind zoning ordinance in the first quarter (of 2013),” Henderson said. “As it was going through the BZA process, I think the board had some discussion as to what might come out of that. We did have numerous meetings and lost some membership along the way. That was probably one of the reasons it didn’t get passed in the beginning of the year.

“We’re going to receive something back by the February deadline,” Henderson added. “As soon as they get it back to us, we’ll start working through the process.”

Source:  By Martin Slagter | Kokomo Tribune | December 17, 2013 | www.kokomotribune.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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