The answers to some questions surrounding Tipton County’s wind ordinance are still blowing in the wind.
With the deadline for making changes to the county’s wind ordinance looming, Tipton County Commissioners are still hesitant in sending back amendments after another round of discussion Monday.
Two weeks after extending the moratorium for new wind energy developments through the end of 2014, Tipton County Commissioner Phil Heron said he is still not satisfied with some of the language in the revised ordinance provided by the county’s plan commission.
The biggest hang-up with the ordinance involves a lack of a definitive base ambient sound level in the language, Heron said.
Heron has been working with county attorney John Brooke on ironing out the legal language of the ordinance, including how to better serve those affected by the sound emitted by wind turbines.
“The way sound issues are written in our ordinance, I don’t see any change,” Heron said. “We know with the Wildcat Wind Farm, we’ve had a lot of complaints about noise. So how can we help ourselves to eliminate the problem? I don’t want to just say, ‘hey, this is what we’ve got to live with.’”
When asked by audience members if the commission had considered hiring an audiologist to work with those who have hearing difficulties near the wind farms, Heron noted that the commission had offered to pay for the family of Dallas Walker to see one after the family had made complaints about the sound emitted by the turbines in January. The family had turned down the commission’s offer twice, Heron said.
The county commission has two more meetings in which it can approve the amendments to the ordinance before its Feb. 4 deadline. If the commission does not approve any amendments to the ordinance, it will essentially be approved with the language provided by the plan commission in October.
As the ordinance stands now, 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 the plan commission approved the ordinance in October, county commissioners were given 90 days to take action on it. Since then, commissioners have addressed some areas of concern, including stiffer penalties and fines for turbines in violation of the ordinance and economic development issues within the ordinance that have been “cleaned up.”
At this point, Commissioner Joe VanBibber said the biggest concerns have been addressed.
“I’m not sure our sound ordinance is bad or our enforcement’s been bad,” he said.
“I’m not necessarily sure that it’s the best we can do, but I think it’s the best we can do right now,” he added. “You can only kick this down the road so long.”
VanBibber added that Heron, who has expressed the most concern about how the sound is addressed in the ordinance, must be ready to offer concrete solutions as the Feb. 4 deadline approaches.
“If the noise issue is your issue, it can’t only be a problem, you’ve got to come up with a solution,” he said, addressing Heron.
The commissioners meet again at 9 a.m. on Jan. 13.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding