August 15, 2017

Wind farm opponents petition county

Bob Cox | Journal Review |

The group of residents organizing against plans for two local wind energy farms are calling for a land use ordinance to prohibit wind turbines in the county.

Abby Hoffman, Linden, a member of No Wind Farm Montgomery County, presented county commissioners with a petition on Monday asking the board to start working on the ordinance. The group has spoken out against the farms at several county meetings over concerns for health, the environment and property.

Sugar Creek LLC, a subsidiary of Akuo USA, finalized plans for a 100-turbine farm in Madison and Sugar Creek townships, with land already secured for a second phase. Meanwhile, Apex Clean Energy is developing another farm in parts of Coal Creek, Madison and North Union townships.

“We have found that having planning and zoning is the best way to stop wind farms,” Hoffman said. “Many counties use (planning and zoning) to stop wind farms.”

The petition contained signatures from approximately 35 northern Montgomery County residents. Commissioners accepted the petition without comment.

After the meeting, commissioner John Frey said it didn’t include a Darlington petition he’d recently seen with an additional 25 names.

In other business, commissioners took a step toward converting the county’s health insurance policies to self-funded from privately-funded, an effort to reduce health insurance costs. Premiums are increasing by 20 percent.

Apex Benefits Group has become the record of agent for the county’s health insurance. The company will begin gathering information to weigh funding options.

By choosing a self-insured plan, the county would agree to bear the financial risk of providing health care benefits to employees. The county would cover employee doctor or hospital visits rather than pay a monthly fixed premium to a health insurance provider. The switch could go into affect as early as Jan. 1.

Commissioner Phil Bane said his company, Bane-Welker Equipment, converted to a self-insured plan and has since realized hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings while providing better benefits to employees.

When asked if the potential savings would be passed down to employees, commission president Jim Fulwider said passing the savings to employees would be a goal.

Highway director

Jeremy Phillips presented commissioners with a contract for the upcoming Country Club Road project. The project will shore up bank erosion on the east and west sides of the road near State Road 32 West. Completion remains on target for 2021, Phillips said.

Commissioners approved a resolution to allow the farm lease for county land to cover a period of five years instead of three. The board also clarified innkeeper’s tax requirements, excluding banquet facilities from the ordinance.

URL to article: