BRANCH COUNTY – Branch County Administrator Bud Norman said he will bring in experts to discuss a proposed wind turbine ordinance which will go before the rarely used Branch County Planning Commission when it meets at 9 a.m. Dec. 12.
After losing the election to force Union Township to adopt a zoning code, Concerned Citizens of Branch County asked County Commissioners to create a county wide wind turbine zoning ordinance. The planning group would have to act on the request first.
County Commissioner Don Vrablic is uncertain if the county will get into the zoning business. Questioned at the December Algansee Township meeting if it should go ahead with its solar and wind ordinances or wait for the county, Vrablic told Algansee to continue working on its township law.
“We don’t have county wide zoning,” Vrablic said, expressing only his own opinion. “It would be extremely difficult for us to do anything like that. We would have to have county wide zoning to regulate anything whether it would be wind turbines or solar panels. It would be a long process for us to do that.”
Norman admits there are not funds in the 2019 budget for any kind of zoning which would take an administration and staff to enforce. The county has had difficulty in operating its building code enforcement and permit operations since the recession of 2008.
“I am not saying it could not happen. I would be concerned about imposing zoning requirements on Algansee Township. I understand the reasons behind it. It would be difficult,” he said.
With Noble, California, and Union Townships without any zoning, Vrablic said those proposing zoning “want us to step in and supersede that. We don’t have any authority to do that,” Vrablic said.
The person who proposed the zoning for wind turbines, retired Quincy teacher Marilyn Johnson, was named to represent education on the commission.
The Union township resident told commissioners, ‘I really want Branch County to stay a really nice place to live. I hope I can ask the questions that five years down the road we wished we would have asked.’
The commission also has named, as an industry representative, retired engineer/ farmer Kevin Miller from Colon Road in Matteson Township. Both he and his wife Patti are members of the Concerned Citizens seeking wind turbine regulations. The agenda for the Tuesday commission session now seeks to revoke that nomination as industry representative and place him in nomination for the at-large seat. He would be considered along with David Swallow, as the at-large representative on the commission for a three year term.
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