December 5, 2018

Cass County gathering info on wind turbines; Commission continuing with plans to reexamine local rules

Mitchell Kirk, Staff reporter | Pharos Tribune |

A Cass County official says she’s gathering information to aid planning leaders in their possible reconsideration of rules governing commercial wind turbines.

Arin Shaver, executive director of the Logansport/Cass County Planning Department, said at a county plan commission meeting on Tuesday that the commission’s ordinance review committee met in November. At that meeting, Shaver said she and committee members discussed what kind of information they wanted to gather before meeting again.

Since then, Shaver said she has been collecting ordinances regulating commercial wind energy generation in other Indiana counties as well as wind turbine manufacturers’ safety requirements.

Shaver said she’s also working to set up a meeting with the U.S. National Guard 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne, whose pilots train at low altitudes over Cass County.

She said after Tuesday’s meeting that she acquired a 2017 study from Michigan State University as well that addresses zoning for wind energy systems.

During the meeting, Shaver said that the ordinance review committee would likely meet multiple times to go over the information before making any kind of recommendation to the plan commission.

If the commission decides on any changes, the Cass County Commissioners would need to approve them before they’d go into effect.

Paige Woodhouse, Royal Center, urged plan commission members to consider rules for commercial wind turbines that officials are weighing in Jasper County.

The considerations include requiring utility-grade wind turbines to be 1.5 times their tip height from property lines of participating property owners and a half-mile or 6.5 times tip height from nonparticipating property lines, whichever’s greater. Another would limit turbine noise to no more than 35 decibels at nonparticipating property lines.

Cass County’s rules for wind turbines require them to be at least 1,000 feet from residences, the length of a turbine blade from nonparticipating property lines and no louder than 60 decibels at the nearest residence, except for short-term events.

The Cass County Plan Commission decided to reexamine local wind rules after an energy firm called off plans for a wind farm in northern Cass and Miami counties in September. It was a hotly contested issue in the area from the end of 2017 up until the proposal’s cancellation.

A lawsuit calling Cass County’s current wind rules unconstitutional remains pending in Cass Circuit Court.

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