The wooden pews were full Thursday night in the old Henry County circuit courtroom in anticipation of a public hearing about changes that could be made to the local industrial wind turbine ordinance.
The Henry County Planning Commission decided to forego any action or discussion about wind turbines, however, and ended the meeting in less than 15 minutes.
Thursday night’s meeting was originally scheduled so that the planning commission could hear public comments about a proposed amendment to the wind energy conversion system (WECS) ordinance that would shorten the distance industrial turbines can be built from “non-participating dwellings” to 1,250 feet.
Henry County Sheriff’s deputies were posted at the front and rear of the courthouse as locals began filling the building well before the advertised 6 p.m. start time of Thursday’s meeting. Seats were prime real estate by 5:45 p.m. and many people chose to stand in the back.
About 75 percent of the people in the audience wore variations of the now-familiar white shirts stating “NO WIND” and carried signs with the same message.
Several members of the public had set up cameras to record the proceedings. Someone placed a miniature wind turbine and thick length of rope off to one side of the room.
The north section of the wooden benches appeared to be the de facto pro-wind section. Folks on that side of the room wore blue shirts or had stickers that said “Yes to Wind.”
A representative from electric producer Calpine Corporation handed the blue stickers out at the courtroom doorway to anyone wanted one. Calpine is one of three companies interested in placing industrial wind turbines in Henry County.
The meeting began a few minutes after six. Justin Curley was the only commission member absent.
Just after the meeting started, county attorney Sean Row advised the commission not to take any action on the proposed amendment Thursday so that he could review some “procedural concerns.”
“There were things that were very recently brought to my attention that make me inclined to advise against any sort of action one way or the other at this point in time until I have some additional time to look at those things,” Row said.
Row would not go into the specifics in the public meeting about his concerns. He said he would answer questions from the planning commissioners after the meeting had adjourned.
Zoning administrator Darrin Jacobs said the concerns were raised at a recent Henry County Commissioners meeting.
The planning commission voted unanimously to follow Row’s advise.
Jacobs does not anticipate that the proposed WECS ordinance amendment will be on the April meeting agenda.
There was no word Friday of when the topic might be brought back before the commission for public comment.
The planning commission moved on with its business meeting and passed an amendment proposed by the Henry County Redevelopment Commission (RDC). The amendment effectively created a new 25 acre tax incremental financing (TIF) district in the industrial park just south of New Castle.
New Castle–Henry County Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Corey Murphy explained that the new TIF district would be part of a proposed incentive package for Micronutrients, a company that has expressed interest in expanding into Henry County.
The new TIF allocation district would mean that any taxes Micronutrients generates will go back into improving that 25 acre zone. Murphy pointed out that the county had authorized “a similar process and structure” for Boar’s Head to incentivize that company to move into the industrial park.
The planning commission approved the resolution.
Read today’s story about the Henry County Commissioners meeting for more details on the RDC resolution.
With no further business on the agenda, planning commission president Steve Rust adjourned the meeting.
New planning commission member
Members of the public who regularly attend the planning commission meetings noticed a new face at the table. Thursday was the first meeting for Greensboro Township Trustee Rachel Clark.
The Henry County Commissioners selected Clark to replace Joe Manis on the planning commission. Manis resigned in January, citing health concerns.
Clark hopes people of Greensboro will reach out to her both as a trustee and as a county planner to share their local concerns.
“I hope that anybody in the county who has an interest and concern, that they find me approachable and that they would come talk to me,” Clark said. “Hopefully, I can be a voice of the people. That’s the whole point of doing this.”
Public service and personal life keeps Clark busy. Besides her role as trustee and new planning commissioner, Clark is also a local paramedic. She has a new baby, a senior in high school, and a recent high school grad.
“This is plenty. Plenty!” Clark said with a laugh.
The next Henry Count Planning Commission meeting is at 6:30 p.m. April 20 in the old circuit courtroom, 101 S. Main St., New Castle.