The local ordinance that governs “wind farm” development in Henry County will soon be reviewed and possibly changed by county officials.
The Henry County Commissioners will meet in special session from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 2 and Oct. 3. Both meetings will take place in the old circuit courtroom on the second floor of the Henry County Courthouse, 101 S. Main St., New Castle.
The purpose of the two meetings is to review and discuss Henry County’s current wind energy conversion system (WECS) ordinance.
Butch Baker, president of the local board of commissioners, said the WECS ordinance review is being done for several reasons, not the least of which is repeated suggestions from the public over the past several months to do so.
The current WECS ordinance dates back to 2009 and there have been changes since then in both the design and operation of industrial wind turbines as well as what’s known about their impact on health, property values and other matters.
“There have been a lot of inquiries about when we were going to look at the current ordinance and make any adjustments that may be needed,” Baker said. “We decided it wasn’t going to hinder the judicial review that’s currently underway, so we could probably go ahead and start the process to look at the current ordinance and see if it needs to be changed.”
Susie Eichhorn is one of several people who have voiced concerns about the development of “wind farms” in Henry County. She says the existing ordinance is invalid and wonders if the commissioners will implement an ordinance to protect the people of Henry County or if they will protect wind company desires.
“It’s time for a new, wise ordinance. Time for the commissioners to protect their citizens,” she said, adding that she hopes the commissioners will accept and recognize that negative impacts from industrial turbines are real.
“Loads of information and safe ordinance recommendations have been provided to them already,” Eichhorn said. “Only a safe ordinance is acceptable. Anything less should be replaced with a moratorium on wind until all residents can be protected. Very little was known about living near industrial wind turbines when wind was first discussed in 2009. Negative impacts were never discussed until recently. If the commissioners do not recognize this fact, they are not doing their duty by the people. A safe ordinance can easily be implemented to protect the people, the county and its finances.”
Input from the public will be received concerning possible changes to the WECS ordinance.
Baker said he envisions two basic options for members of the public to present their thoughts and to share information related to possible wind farm development locally. A final decision has not yet been made, but Baker said individuals who want to address the commissioners will likely be given 10 minutes each and more formal presentations, such as those involving PowerPoint or other, more structured approaches will likely be given 20 minutes each.
“We’re going to give people a chance to preregister,” Baker said. “Those who want to can call the office Tuesday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and reserve a time during one of the two meetings that they would like to speak. It’ll be first come first served. The night of the meetings we’ll have those sheets out and anyone else who wants to speak can sign up to do so in one of the empty spots.”
Questions about the upcoming meetings may be directed to the Henry County Commissioners office at 765-529-4705.
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