The maximum noise level for wind turbines would be further restricted under new changes introduced Monday to the county’s wind farm ordinance.
Noise cannot exceed 50 decibels, according to the updated language – about the same as light traffic. That’s a couple notches above the originally-proposed 48 decibels, which was recommended by Purdue University expert Keith Kluender.
The current level is 60 decibels, similar to conversation in a restaurant.
Montgomery County Commissioners have spent months debating the issue following opposition to two wind farms being developed north of Crawfordsville.
Opponents filled the courthouse meeting room as the new changes were outlined.
No Wind Farm Montgomery County, a group of citizens against the projects, calls for the maximum noise to be reduced to 30 decibels – comparable to a whisper.
On top of the noise levels, protections for small-acreage property owners were also introduced. A 1,500 ft. buffer zone would be required between wind farms and the property lines of non-participating homeowners with up to five acres of land.
A two-year time limit would also be set on building permits for wind energy projects. And property owners could take developers to court for violating the ordinance, in addition to the companies being fined.
Commissioners will vote on the ordinance at 8 a.m. June 11 in the city building, where the meeting is being moved to accommodate larger crowds.
“As we know, not everyone’s going to be 100 percent happy with our decision,” commission president Jim Fulwider said.
“… And if there’s anybody that feels like we haven’t given this any time and any thought, then you probably need to get your head out of the sand because I don’t think in 14 years being involved in county government I’ve had anything that we’ve spent more time on than we have this wind energy stuff.”
Commissioner John Frey said the changes wouldn’t halt the development of wind farms.
“If stopping wind energy is your goal, the only way to do that is through zoning,” Frey said, later adding there was no reason to debate the ordinance without comprehensive planning or zoning.
Indeed, county officials are taking steps to develop a comprehensive plan. A public open house on the proposal is set for 6-8 p.m. tonight at Crawfordsville High School.
Commissioner Phil Bane, who first opposed revisiting the ordinance because the county isn’t zoned, said the changes to the ordinance were reasonable.
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