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Miami County proposing ‘clean up’ of wind ordinance

PERU – Miami County officials say they are proposing to clean up the county’s wind ordinance after it was hastily passed three years ago to keep a proposed wind project from coming to the county.

Building Commission Administrator Corey Roser said the proposal would add more precise language and make the ordinance more easy to understand after it was thrown together in 2018 by the Miami County Plan Commission.

“It was, for lack of a better word, kind of sloppy,” he said. “Things needed cleaned up, like the verbiage.”

However, the updated ordinance wouldn’t change anything substantive in the current requirements to bring a wind project to the county, which was written to prohibit nearly any wind project from ever being built.

“Nothing really changes, for the most part, especially on setbacks,” Roser said. “We didn’t touch those. It was really just about cleaning it up and making it look polished and professional.”

One new proposed addition to the ordinance would require any applicant for a commercial wind farm to submit a fire and emergency plan to be approved by the fire department that would have jurisdiction in the area of the project.

In 2018, the plan commission quickly crafted the language to stop an energy company from bringing 75 turbines to the northern part of the county as part of a 600-megawatt wind generation development.

That proposal drew fierce pushback from opponents and led one resident to sue the county after the proposal became public in 2017.

The pushback led the plan commission to amend the county’s wind farm ordinance and double the setback requirement for wind turbines to 2,000 feet from property lines, roads, public lands and city limits.

“The way the ordinance is written now, it makes it pretty tough to put in any wind turbines at all,” Roser said.

He said that to his knowledge, no energy companies have expressed interest in building in Miami County since the ordinance was approved.

The plan commission is set to hold a public hearing on the proposed changes to the wind ordinance at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday inside the Miami County Courthouse’s GAR Room. That will be followed by a regular meeting in which board members will vote on the changes.