The Area Plan Commission is recommending that no large wind energy conversion systems, better known as wind turbines, be placed in Wells County.
The ban does not affect the locations that have already been approved for Apex Wind Energy, sites that have been the subject of recent litigation and face an uncertain future with county officials. It does mean that, after the county’s zoning and subdivision control ordinances have been amended, there will be no zoning classification that will allow large WECS to be sited anywhere in Wells County.
The APC’s decision is not final. Michael Lautzenheiser Jr., the commission’s executive director, must take it around to the units of government that the APC serves – Bluffton, Ossian, Zanesville, Uniondale, Vera Cruz, and Poneto, plus the Wells County Commissioners. If any of them do not like the proposed amendments to the ordinances, it will come to the APC for reconsideration.
However, one member of the Wells County Board of Commissioners, Tamara Dunmoyer, said she and her fellow commissioners – Blake Gerber and Kevin Woodward – wanted wind turbines written out of the county’s zoning ordinance.
Dunmoyer, who is a party to a lawsuit that has been working its way through the Indiana appellate system, emphasized her point by walking over to a chalkboard that had three options concerning wind turbines. She wrote KW, TD, and BG, the initials of the three commissioners, and circled Option 1 – the elimination of large WECS.
The nine APC members present Thursday night then voted unanimously to recommend that option as part of a massive revision of the ordinances. There are 70 revisions in total, but three of them – wind ordinances, concentrated feeding operations, and allowing the use of truck bodies for storage – drew the most comment as the APC considered the changes.
In the end, however, the rules on CFOs – in particular, the distance the operations can be located from wells – and the proposed rule changes on the use of truck bodies for storage remained what had been recommended to the APC by an ordinance redraft committee. A CFO or manure lagoon must be at least 500 feet from any well other than that which services the CFO or manure lagoon, and truck bodies as storage units are allowed only in agriculture and industrial zoning, forbidden in residential zoning, and may be used in some other zoning classifications by request.
Wind turbines, however, got the ax. Dunmoyer had asked for that during the APC’s June meeting, citing the controversy they had brought to the county.
The prohibition, however, applies only to large WECS. Small- and medium-sized WECS may still be approved.
The elimination of large WECS also resulted in the elimination of one entire section from the zoning ordinance, which dealt with development plans for wind turbines.
Lautzenheiser said he would take the ordinance revisions to the various town boards and to the county commissioners as soon as possible.
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