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Wind energy regulation process begins

Since May 2013, the subject of a possible wind turbine farm in May’s Lick and neighboring Fleming County has dominated discussion at Mason County Fiscal Court meetings.

Now after nine months, steps are being taken to put the matter before the Mason County Joint Planning Commission for the purpose of drafting any ordinances regulating wind energy in the county.

Once completed, the ordinances will go before members of the Mason County Fiscal Court for final approval and adoption.

During Wednesday’s meeting of the JPC, Zoning Administrator Matt Wallingford outlined the steps to be taken over the next three months to begin the process.

The meeting was well attended by members of Citizens Voice of Mason County, a group opposed to the location of wind turbines in May’s Lick. The project is under study by Duke Energy Renewables and several contracts with landowners in the community have been signed.

“Our goal in this process is to be unbiased,” Wallingford told board members.

Wallingford said May is the target month for the JPC to host a public meeting on the issue.

Until then, members of the JPC have been given a copy of a book compiled by the American Planning Association entitled Planning for Wind Energy. The publication is designed to as a tool to provide language and topics for drafting wind energy ordinances.

The public was advised a free downloadable copy of the publication can be found at the American Planning Association’s website.

Wallingford said at the March 5 meeting, board members will begin looking at the aspects of an ordinance and what needs to be included.

In between the March and April JPC meetings, board members will travel to West Lafayette, Ind. to visit wind farms. Two trips will be planned, with four board members accompanied by Wallingford on each trip.

Citizens in attendance were not pleased with the possibility only two hours would be spent at a wind farm by board members. Board member Joe Brannon said in addition to seeing the turbines in the daylight, he also wanted to see them at night. The suggestion was agreed upon by all board members.

Steve Edson, who has been hired by the fiscal to serve as a consultant to offer guidance through the planning and zoning process, will accompany board members on the trip. Wallingford said Edson plans to include areas where there are, and have been complaints about wind turbines.

Edson is a planning and zoning administrator for Tipton County, Ind., and the city of Tipton. He is currently working with Tipton officials to draft a third version of standards and regulations related to wind turbine farms in Tipton County.