Wind farms are controversial in Indiana, with some counties welcoming them while others are appalled at the thought of tall towers and humming blades overtaking their communities.
And it’s that controversy that led State Rep. Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville, to file a bill calling for more public input on the subject.
Saunders’ bill would allow residents to vote on the construction of a wind turbine before one could be built in an Indiana county, municipality or township. The bill also establishes disclosure requirements for wind farm developers and elected local officials to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Saunders said he doesn’t yet know if his bill will find a sponsor in the Indiana House of Representatives, but he thinks the subject is one that needs more public discussion.
The bill establishes minimum setback requirements for wind power devices, including wind mills and turbines. It also establishes setback requirements of at least 1½ miles from airports, hospitals, day cares, schools or universities.
The bill also requires that the base of the wind power device must be at least 2,200 feet from the nearest corner of any residence.
“The construction of new wind farms is a contentious issue in our area, and my legislation would ensure residents have a direct say on whether or not wind farms could be built in their local community,” Saunders said. “My bill would also bring greater transparency to the matter by creating requirements for local elected officials to disclose any financial ties to wind farm developers.”
The bill also would confer authority to the attorney general to investigate and adjudicate complaints of alleged violations of disclosure requirements.
Views of the clean-energy option that is wind power vary widely across his district, Saunders said, which is another reason to have legislation that offers protection for all sides.
Wayne County residents made it clear in December they don’t want wind farms, after more than 200 residents attended a hearing on the issue.
Wayne County commissioners amended the county’s rules and unanimously agreed a wind farm requires a zoning variance and the final decision in each request will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
“It’s all in where they’re located,” Saunders said of the wind farm controversy. “There’s a lot of pros and cons. How people feel about them varies from one county to the next.”
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