April 23, 2019

Amendments proposed for wind energy ordinance

Jim Johnson | Journal Review | www.journalreview.com

An ordinance was introduced Monday at the Montgomery County Commissioners’ meeting that would amend a section of the county code regarding wind energy conversion systems.

The changes would align the current code of ordinances with a proposed zoning ordinance released earlier this month after Akuo Energy threatened county commissioners with a lawsuit. The proposed zoning ordinance reflects the county’s new comprehensive plan and includes stricter regulations on wind turbines and wind farm development.

“This ordinance would amend Chapter 155, which is the wind energy conversion systems ordinance, in order to make changes that would make this chapter consistent with the proposed zoning ordinance,” county attorney Dan Taylor said. “If the proposed zoning ordinance is not adopted, then there would be no need to change Chapter 155.”

The Montgomery County Plan Commission will conduct a public hearing to consider the adoption of the proposed ordinance at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers of the Crawfordsville City Building, 300 E. Pike St. The plan commission will send either a favorable or unfavorable recommendation to county commissioners, who will vote on whether to pass the zoning ordinance. The proposed zoning ordinance establishes agriculture, residential, commercial and industrial zoning districts, and would apply to all unincorporated areas of Montgomery County.

A section of the proposed zoning ordinance addresses wind turbines and wind energy conversion systems, and the ordinance heard by county commissioners Monday includes changes for current code and reflects the language in the proposed zoning ordinance.

“The changes are essentially lining up with the proposed zoning ordinance with Chapter 155,” Taylor said. “This introduction is done so that if the proposed zoning ordinance is adopted, that you have one set of rules out there that’s lining up Chapter 155, which is a permit ordinance, with the proposed zoning ordinance.”

Commissioners had most recently made tweaks to the wind ordinance last year after months of debating and researching citizen concerns surrounding wind turbines. In the changes adopted by commissioners last July, noise levels generated by wind turbines were reduced from 60 decibels to 50 decibels. The new amendments introduced Monday would reduce noise levels further to 32 decibels.

Minimum setback distances are altered as well, including 2,640 feet or five-times the height of the tower from any adjoining property line, road right-of-way, or overhead electrical transmission or distribution lines. And it establishes a 1-mile setback from any town, city or school.

Changes also increased the distance of substations from residences, from 1,000 feet to 2,640 feet.

In other business, commissioners:

• Tabled an ordinance on second reading, creating the position of county administrator, approving the job description and amending the county code.

• Passed an ordinance authorizing the transfer of vacant properties eligible for a commissioners tax sale to adjacent landowners.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2019/04/23/amendments-proposed-for-wind-energy-ordinance/