The Huntington County wind farm ordinance is now back in the hands of the county commissioners, after the Huntington County Plan Commission approved changes to the ordinance for a second time on Wednesday, March 11.
Following an initial set of changes to Section 720 of the Wind Energy Conversion System Ordinance by the Plan Commission, the commissioners decided in December to request additional changes.
Mark Mussman, executive director of the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development, says members of the plan commission reviewed the changes by county commissioners and voted 5-2 to approve the ordinance at their meeting on Wednesday, March 11, sending it back to the county commissioners with a favorable recommendation.
Two plan commission members, Steve Park and new member Denise Kreider, voted against the recommendation, while two other members, Jim Sprowl and Jay Poe, were absent.
Mussman said plan commission members made two small changes to the ordinance before the vote. However, one of the most vehemently-contested provisions of the ordinance, regarding the distance of setbacks protested by the Huntington County Concerned Citizens group, was not changed. Mussman said the requirement remains a 1,000-foot setback to non-participating property owners’ property lines; in other cases, the setback requirement is 1.1 times the total height of the tower.
The ordinance now goes back to the Huntington County Commissioners for final approval. That item is expected to be on the agenda at its March 23 meeting.
Rob Propes, who represents Apex Clean Energy, has said that once the ordinance is revised his company plans to file an application to develop a wind farm in the Plum Tree area, in southeast Huntington County near Warren. In May of 2014 Apex estimated the project to cost $195 million. The company estimates a $100 million impact to the county over the project’s 20-year lifecycle.
Propes has said that more than a dozen landowners have already signed lease agreements with Apex for nearly 2,000 acres of farmland. The project will include construction of up to 65 turbines, which could be up and running as soon as late 2016.
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