Crawford County commissioners will seek public input on a proposal that would effectively prevent the development of wind farms in the county.
On Thursday, commissioners announced they will have a public hearing on the issue at 1 p.m. April 21 in the youth building at the Crawford County Fairgrounds.
Commissioner Tim Ley said the resolution to have the hearing was passed at a meeting Thursday afternoon, in front of a crowd of wind farm opponents.
“They all was happy,” he said. “History is being made.”
Apex Clean Energy has been developing Honey Creek Wind in the northern half of the county. The industrial wind farm is expected to include approximately 60 turbines.
An opposition group formed earlier this year, Crawford Anti-Wind, has been circulating petitions in an effort to get the commissioners to restrict development.
The commissioners’ decision to have the hearing is the first step in a process set out by Senate Bill 52, which became law in July. The law significantly changed Ohio’s laws governing siting requirements for industrial solar and wind projects, giving county commissioners the ability to prevent Ohio Power Siting Board certification of certain wind and solar facilities.
After the hearing, commissioners can adopt a resolution designating unincorporated land in the county as a restricted area, prohibiting construction of wind farms. If such a resolution is passed, petitioners have 30 days to request a referendum vote on the decision.
But Doug Weisenauer, president of the board of commissioners, said he remains committed to protecting landowners’ rights.
“Property owners have a right to do what they want to do on their own property,” he said.
“All we did was set a time and a place for a public hearing,” he said. “It will be a time for the community to speak about what their opinions are. We don’t have time for all these groups coming in every week and taking up an hour of our time, so we’ve set a public hearing for discussion and we’ll go from there.”
The same group of wind farm opponents has been attending commissioners’ meetings “several times a week,” he said. They’ve also been attending township trustee meetings across the county, and “occupying quite a bit of their time.”
“And we hear the same comments, over and over and over,” Weisenauer said. “It’s like, OK.”
He said he believes the ability to restrict wind farm development that SB 52 grants to county commissioners amounts to imposing zoning – and under Ohio Revised Code, townships should be the ones making decisions about zoning.
“I believe that Senate Bill 52 takes away property owners’ rights and it also infringes on the authority of the township trustees,” he said. “That’s why I’m opposed to it. Windmills have nothing to do with it.”
This story will be updated.
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