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Wind farm amendment introduced; Commissioners propose reducing noise limit, increasing property setbacks

Montgomery County Commissioners presented their highly anticipated amendment to the county’s ordinance governing wind turbines on Wednesday.

Two areas of concern that led to the proposed change are noise levels and property line setbacks.

A major change to the ordinance involves the noise limit emitting from a wind turbine from 60 decibels to 34 decibels. The second change would increase the required setback for property lines from 1,300 feet to 1,500 feet.

The noise decibel level will be measured at the nearest primary structure for a participating landowner or at the nearest property line of a non-participating landowner.

The amendment mentions citizens who have been speaking out against wind turbines and acknowledges their protests as the reason for the changes. The amendment also mentions a presentation by Dr. Keith R. Kluender, professor of speech, language and hearing sciences at Purdue University given in a public meeting in January.

Commissioners said the amended ordinance will be posted on the county’s website at www.montgomeryco.net and paper copies will be available at the commissioners’ office located at 110 W. South Blvd.

Commissioners will have a first reading of the proposed changes Feb. 21 and a second reading March 21. The amendment must pass first and second readings for it to become a part of the existing ordinance.

The public will have an opportunity to address the issue with commissioners at the meetings during the public comment time.

Commissioner Phil Bane said an important thing for residents to remember is that the amendment introduced will probably change and that the goal of the commissioners is to try to protect all landowners.

“This document was for introduction only and it definitely needs some adjustments,” Bane said. “We will continue to have open discussion and each commissioner will be able to re-read and re-think how we can do what is best for all parties.”

Bane said the amendment was designed by county attorney Dan Taylor from the submitted ideas of each commissioner.

He reiterated after the meeting that the amendment is not something that is “set in stone” and will more than likely change.

He said one challenge is trying to keep the homeowner with one or two acres of land protected as well as the landowner who owns 500 acres. All landowners have their own diverse opinion about wind turbines.

“We are trying to be fair to everybody,” Bane said. “There is going to be some give-and-take and not everyone is going to get everything they want.”

The issue is starting to gain interest in more parts of the county as landowners surrounding Waynetown and also west of Crawfordsville along State Road 32 have been approached by wind turbine companies.