Montgomery County Commissioners passed an ordinance in 2009 to regulate wind energy conversion systems. Nine years later that ordinance is being scrutinized and questioned as two wind turbine farms are trying to establish facilities in northern Montgomery County.
Several concerned citizens as well as Montgomery County Councilman Mark Davidson spoke against wind farms at Monday’s commissioners’ meeting. All of the speakers asked commissioners to consider revising the ordinance. They also encouraged officials to study data generated by numerous sources in the wake of the industry’s growth throughout the United States.
“A lot of things have changed since the 2009 ordinance was written,” Davidson said. “You know I am a property rights advocate and I believe people have the right to lease their property to whoever they want. However, I believe their neighbors have rights, too.”
Davidson called wind energy projects a “farce” and claimed wind farms are a “danger to neighbors.” He listed health issues, decreasing property values and potential harm to economic development as reasons to ban wind turbines here.
“I advise you (commissioners) to research and reconstruct our county ordinance,” Davidson said.
Resident Tisha Southwood, who has been active in the new group calling themselves “No Wind Farm Montgomery County,” has done a lot of research and believes a community forum on the topic is needed.
Commissioner John Frey has talked to six people about the concerns with the current ordinance. He admits commissioners need to do their own research and start to address the issue. Frey asked county attorney Dan Taylor what options commissioners have in regards to changing the ordinance which was modeled after the Benton County wind farm ordinance.
Commissioners believe there is a problem withe the original ordinance in the way it is written.
Commissioner Jim Fulwider said the ordinance might have problems because it was written in terms that would be consistent with a county that has a zoning ordinance.
Taylor re-iterated the same point when he spoke about county options.
“Most counties combat this issue with a zoning ordinance,” Taylor said. “Since we do not have a zoning ordinance, we are at a disadvantage in regulating vendors such as wind farms.”
Taylor cited a recent case in Rush County that banned wind farms in its zoning ordinance. It was challenged in court and Rush County won the appeal.
Davidson disagreed with Taylor and said the answer is to ban wind farms all together in a revised ordinance.
Commissioners approving the present ordinance in 2009 were Terry Hockersmith, Phil Bane and Harry Siamas.
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