As the Clinton County Planning and Zoning Commission wades into perhaps the county’s most contentious issue, they hope to have some guidance along the way.
Zoning officials met with the Clinton County Commissioners on Thursday, March 10, to see if funding could be made available to retain a lawyer as they decide whether to amend the county’s wind energy zoning regulations.
The issue centers around NextEra Energy, the company currently looking to construct and operate wind turbines in the north-central section of Clinton County. The proposed project has met stiff opposition from concerned residents who have organized against the effort. The county currently has a moratorium on all wind energy applications until the zoning board decides what, if any, amendments they would propose.
The Concerned Citizens for the Future of Clinton and DeKalb Counties and Shatto Milk Company – which has voiced concerns with how the proposed project might affect their operations – have submitted proposed zoning amendments to the board. NextEra and the opposition are currently submitting comments on the proposed amendments.
Clinton County Planning and Zoning Chairman Michael Adair – who was joined by fellow members Patrick Clark and Terry Beers, and Planning and Zoning Administrator Beth Farwell on Thursday – told the Clinton County Commissioners that no matter the outcome, someone will be unhappy, and the issue could be pushed into court. In that case, the zoning board would want to ensure their work is technically sound.
“I think it would be in our interest to spend some money up front and get good, solid advice,” Adair said, adding that the results could affect Clinton County well into the future.
“This is going to be a long-term thing in Clinton County, good or bad, or good and bad,” Second District Commissioner Larry King added.
The Clinton County Commissioners appeared receptive to the idea, though they did not move on it Thursday. Instead, the zoning department will research possible representation and pricing and bring the information back before the commission.
“The short term is, this is happening at a good time because we are early in the year, so we have money in the coffers,” Clinton County Presiding Commissioner Wade Wilken, Jr. said after the meeting. “It’s toward the end of the year when things start getting tight... By happening now, it allows us to pay out those monies, get this done and hopefully account for that. That was one of the things I was trying to impress upon them was, make sure their fees they are going to be charging can cover the cost of what it takes for the county to do this.”
The next Clinton County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 7. Any future amendments proposed by the zoning board would need to be approved by the Clinton County Commissioners before going into effect.