Montgomery County commissioners are doing something unusual – taking a stand against a proposed state law.
The three Republican commissioners, President John Frey, Vice President Jim Fulwider and Commissioner Dan Guard, joined more than 50 other counties around Indiana in sending a strong message to the state that they oppose a proposed law that would override local controls in regulating wind farms.
“We cannot support the State overreach in this bill,” Frey said. “We need to keep local zoning decisions local.”
The Indiana House Wednesday passed HB 1381 by a 58-38 margin with local state reps Tim Brown and Sharon Negele voting to take away local decision authority in regard to wind turbines. Negele is actually one of the sponsors of the bill.
Briefly, HB 1381 establishes default standards in respect to wind power devices in local units for setback requirements, height restrictions, shadow flicker limitations, signal interference, sound level limitations and project decommissioning.
Montgomery County passed its own standards that basically halted wind turbines from being built in the county a couple of years ago.
HB 1381 sponsor Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said on public television’s Indiana Lawmakers this weekend that only 40 Indiana counties were suited to have wind turbines and that 32 of those had essentially banned it. He explained that Indiana is buying renewable energy now and his bill would help take the heat off of county commissioners as the state looks to increase renewable energy.
Soliday went on to tell Indiana Lawmakers host Jon Schwantes that the idea of local control isn’t set in stone.
“I hear about local control. I looked, it’s not in the bible; it’s not in the Constitution. It’s a good management technique to make decisions happen at the lowest level. But when a county does something that effects other counties’ abilities, then’s when the state steps in.”
Reaction to the legislation, however, has been swift and widespread.
Resolutions began popping up with county commissioners a week ago. Montgomery County is just one of the latest to join the fight.
“Our State legislature is trying to take over local control and that is not acceptable,” Fulwider said.
The bill is now in the Indiana Senate, where commissioners say they hope it stops.
“We ask that our State Senator, Phil Boots, help us stop this bad bill from becoming law,” Guard said.
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