LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Around 180 people turned out Monday night at a West Lebanon high school to see whether the Board of Zoning Appeals would approve an exemption to allow construction of Jordan Creek Wind Farm.
The measure passed in a 3-2 vote, allowing development plans for the farm to move forward.
Orion Renewable Energy Group, the project developer, plans to erect roughly 150 wind turbines throughout Jordan, Liberty, Prairie and Steuben townships, utilizing 27,000 acres of private land.
The measure has been widely contested among Warren County citizens, some claiming the turbines will decrease property values and create building restrictions, while others contend the environmental and economic benefits from wind energy outweigh other drawbacks.
Warren County resident Burt Etchison helped found a group known as Warren County Concerned Citizens, a faction speaking out against the wind farm development.
Etchison cited several reasons Warren County is wary of turbines. Property values will go down, he said, for those in close proximity to the wind farm. Additionally, the turbines could impact residents’ ability to build out on their own property because of the statute requiring buildings to be 1,250 feet from a turbine. Many, Etchison said, also have safety concerns about what happens if a turbine blade fails or flies off.
Finally, he said, he has doubts about the future of wind energy power as a sustainable energy source.
“Many counties in Indiana have recently rejected wind,” he said. “So this ruling may only be a temporary reprieve to a protected and receding industry.”
According to Karen Brooks, Board of Zoning Appeals secretary, Orion attached 14 conditions to the measure that passed, which included stipulations about road access and operating hours, in part intended to ensure residents of the company’s willingness to cooperate.
Although the exemption passed, Etchison said the debate is not over and there is still recourse for those opposed to the turbines.
“The system allows for an appeal,” he said. “This is surely not over.”