Library from Indiana
Judge Linda Ralu Wolf of Delaware Circuit Court No. 3 will replace Henry Circuit Court 1 Judge Bob Witham regarding two court suits that claim the Henry County Planning Commission failed to give proper notice in October 2009 of the public hearing for a new proposed wind energy conversion system (WECS) ordinance.
Residents are speaking out against a pair of proposed wind farms north of Crawfordsville. A group called No Wind Farm Montgomery County says the projects are too close to neighboring homes and pose risks to public health and the environment.
The state’s highest court ruled May 25 to deny a request from Flat Rock Wind, LLC. – also known as Apex Clean Energy – to hear the case of the company’s appeal of the decision, made earlier this year by the Indiana Court of Appeals, upholding a Rush County judge’s decision that the Rush County Area Board of Zoning Appeals was within its right to enact a 2,300-foot setback distance for industrial wind turbines in the proposed Flat Rock Wind Farm.
NextEra’s next hurdle is getting the planning commission to grant an extension for a Commission Approved Use (CAU) that is already in place. During a May 18 meeting, the planning commission did not have enough votes to approve or deny a request for a second one-year extension.
Faulstich believes the utility violated its contract approved in 2015 with the farm because the barn is located within the easement for the power line. He fears beef cattle will be harmed by static electricity, noting that he sometimes gets shocked when he touches equipment because of existing power lines. The 24-year-old said the utility has refused to admit the line is being built too close to the barn.
“After review of the documentation received, the appearance of procedural errors is present, while the question of good governance is also raised,” Elmore said. “The public deserves to be aware of a some questionable emails, concerning appointed or elected officials using the Planning Commission as a liaison for their personal business.”
A group of Henry County residents and property owners concerned about the local development of “wind farms” have drafted an alternative to the existing wind energy conversion system (WECS) ordinance. The group’s primary concerns are about the impact on quality of life, including the health and safety of local residents, property rights, future economic development and both the short- and long-term impact on county finances.
There is no danger of an area aquifer being polluted by a proposed wind energy project in Fayette, Henry and Rush counties.
“All of the representatives of the Federal and State agencies we have talked to so far have indicated to us they feel that the greatest risk to this aquifer is contamination by diesel fuel, hydraulic fluid, other onsite chemicals or lubricants,” he added. “Also, surface water runoff into open pit construction sites is a major concern and a possible source of contamination ... we were shocked to learn that no studies or special permits were needed to construct wind turbines on top of this aquifer.”
West Fork Wind LLC, also known as NextEra Energy Resources, last month filed a civil action in Rush Superior Court requesting a judicial review of the Rush County BZA’s decision, in December 2016, regarding NextEra’s special exception permit application for the construction of 22 industrial wind turbines within the county, as part of the West Fork Wind Energy Center project. The project is slated to span Rush, Fayette and Henry counties.
The Indiana Court of Appeals Tuesday morning issued its opinion on the case involving Flat Rock Wind, LLC. – also known as Apex Clean Energy – and the Rush County Area Board of Zoning Appeals, with that opinion upholding the decision back in July 2015 to enact a 2,300-foot setback distance, from non-participating property lines, on Apex’s special exception permits for construction of industrial wind turbines as part of the proposed wind project which is slated to span both Rush and Henry counties.
An application prepared by Apex Clean Energy to construct and operate the Flat Rock wind facility was submitted to the Rush County Board of Zoning Appeals (the “BZA”) on March 15, 2015. The 180 MW project consisted of 95-3 MW turbines with approximately 66 turbines located in Rush County and the remaining turbines to be sited in Henry County. The Rush County BZA ultimately approved the application with the condition that the setback distance between the wind turbines and non-participating properties be 2,300 feet. The County's ordinance established a setback distance of 1,000 feet. Apex filed a petition before the Rush County Superior Court for judicial review of the BZA’s decision. On May 27, 2016, a judge issued findings of fact and conclusions of law that upheld the BZA’s approval with the 2,300-foot setback provision. Apex appealed the decision to the Indiana Court of Appeals. The decision by the Appeals Count was in favor of Rush County. The full decision can be accessed by clicking the links on the page. A portion of the decision is provided below.
Seven years ago, a company came to Fayette County wanting to develop a Commercial Wind Farm in Posey and Fairview Townships. They claim they were “invited” by the people of Fayette County. There are a lot of farmers and homeowners in Fairview and Posey Township who would like to “un-invite” them and send them back where they cam from – except it’s difficult to tell exactly where they came from.
The Area Plan Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to reject all 11 objections made by the Clinton County Commissioners regarding the LUPAC/Wind Ordinance before a packed Circuit Court Courtroom on the third floor of the Clinton County Courthouse.
Not only were those special exception applications denied by the BZA, they added their own requirements for setback distance and turbine height for future special exception applications NextEra might submit. The BZA announced that any wind turbines constructed by NextEra, in Rush County, must adhere to a 2,640-foot setback from non-participating landowners, in addition to be 200 feet or less in height.
“I make a motion that we accept the application if setbacks are set back moved to 2,640 feet from and property line and the height restricted to 200 foot for turbines,” Steve King said. Dohn Green seconded the motion. "If they are set at 2,640 feet, it will reduce the flicker, protect human health, property value and sound/vibrations," King said. "The lower height is less visually intrusive. I think the trees would help screen them.”
There were a total of 11 (eleven) amendments made to the existing Area Plan Wind Ordinance committee verbiage.
Dozens of residents came to a Wednesday night county commissioner’s meeting thinking they still had one more chance to sway county commissioners to vote “no” to Apex Clean Energy and its wind turbines. But they soon found out their input and a vote by the commissioners weren’t need all.
The fate of two proposed wind projects, at least in Rush County – the Flat Rock Wind Project led by Apex Clean Energy, and the West Fork Wind Energy Center, led by NextEra Energy Resources – could very well be determined in the next month, beginning this very week.
Although the exemption passed, Etchison said the debate is not over and there is still recourse for those opposed to the turbines. "The system allows for an appeal," he said. "This is surely not over."