The Jasper County Commissioners discussed numerous issues during their monthly meeting, held on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 4 in light of the Labor Day holiday, at the Jasper County Courthouse.
These included the hot-button topic of allowing wind turbines into the county, as well as a proclamation concerning Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
The Jasper County Plan Commission voted on Monday, Aug. 27 to table a vote on recommending whether to update the existing county ordinance regulating industry-grade turbines or to ban them completely. Building inspector Mary Scheurich then approached the Jasper County Commissioners to explain what took place that evening and to inquire about a moratorium that the Plan Commission requested.
When asked about the specifics of the Plan Commission’s conclusion, Scheurich said the group first requested a moratorium until its next meeting in September but then edited that limitation to “until we figure this out.”
“What does ‘until we figure it out’ mean?” asked Commissioner Kendell Culp.
“At this point, I have no idea,” Scheurich said. “… There was never a 100 percent agreement. They just went through it. And when they got to the end, several weren’t ready to make a decision. And a lot of them would like more information.”
Scheurich also said that the idea was suggested to form a committee to work on the issue. Officially, however, there is no precise deadline for when the issue has to be resolved.
“They want the new ordinance ASAP, obviously,” Scheurich said. The Commissioners then asked her if there have been any other inquiries by wind power companies to place turbines in the county and plans for when they might do so.
“Not that I’m aware of,” she said. “I know that the last I was ever told was spring of ‘19.’”
Dick Maxwell said he was told by another party that there could possibly be another wind power company proposing a project by late-winter of 2019. He did say this was still second-hand knowledge, however.
Culp and Scheurich agreed that the Planning Commission’s discussions on the matter could be better organized in order to make conclusions faster, though Culp admitted that he still wasn’t sure about some of the details himself.
“I have questions on some of this as well,” he said. “You’re not going to find it out there, unless you have some sort of an expert come in.”
Scheurich was asked if she had the authority to make sure other wind power companies didn’t move forward unchecked with plans for the area until after this matter is resolved.
“For awhile, yes, we can do that,” she said. “But I don’t know how long they would tolerate that, but absolutely.”
Though the Planning Commission may not yet have a precise answer about the ordinance, the topic is already on the agenda for its meeting later this month.
“Knowing that, I don’t think there’s as much pressure that we have to have some official action, as long as we’re continuing to work on it to update it,” Culp said.
With this in mind, along with the fact that nothing about this proposed moratorium had yet been advertised, the decision was made not to take any official action.
Childhood cancer awareness
Donna Criner, Executive Director of the Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids Foundation (NICK), approached the commissioners with a request that they pass a motion officially proclaiming September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The foundation, a 501©3 organization, was founded in 2009 by a local family that experienced the effects of childhood cancer and discovered a need for support and resources for other families enduring childhood cancer in the area.
After the formal proclamation was read out by Criner, the Commissioners quickly passed the motion. Criner’s proclamation will be available at rensselaerrepublican.com.