Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Indiana
Juwi Wind filed a civil suit seeking a judicial review of the BZA’s decision to issue a permit with conditions outside the county’s established wind ordinance. The BZA imposed a 1,500-foot setback from property lines for the placement of wind turbines and required creation of a property value guarantee plan. The complaint alleges the BZA exceeded its authority in placing the conditions on the wind farm development.
In a response to the Public Access Counselor, [BZA President Jerry] Acres said the vote taken did not require a public hearing because it merely attempted to clarify an upcoming meeting and set the ground rules. A civil action is pending, filed by juwi Wind against the BZA and Acres, seeking judicial review of the actions at the July 31 meeting. The suit alleges the actions violated Indiana’s Open Door Law.
Those who thought they'd heard the last of the words "controversy" and "wind turbine" in the same sentence in Culver, Indiana, may have been surprised at what they heard at last Tuesday's Culver plan commission meeting. To be fair, however, the discussion was congenial and exploratory on all sides, and the issue at hand was not the hotly debated commercial wind turbines banned earlier this year throughout the entire county, but personal Wind Energy Conversion Systems (or WECS). Specifically, the commission debated how -- or if -- to regulate the use of such devices within the corporate limits of Culver and within the wider zoning boundary under the commission's purview.
The Tipton County Plan Commission is struggling to decide how to site future wind energy developments in the county. The options have been narrowed down: use the existing mechanism, which involves the Board of Zoning Appeals, create overlay districts where wind farms are permitted or rezone property from agricultural to industrial to designate areas where turbines may be built.
"We have not set a time frame to amend the county wind ordinance," Tyler Moore, president of the board of county commissioners said. "We're confident with the moratorium and with the restrictions placed on the development of wind farms."
It appears likely the next battle over construction of the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in northwestern Tipton County will be in a courtroom. The Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Wednesday came to an abrupt end when BZA President Jerry Acres announced he was limiting testimony on a proposed property value guarantee.
The company proposing to build the Prairie Breeze wind farm in northwestern Tipton County has been denied its request to eliminate a property value guarantee from one of the conditions for the project. Steve Edson, director of the commission, said he made an administrative decision to deny the request.
How far is far enough? As Tipton County attempts to revise its wind ordinance, it is looking to an ad hoc committee to help decide what would be an acceptable setback for a wind turbine. The committee, made up of opponents and proponents of wind energy, presented its recommendations to the Tipton County Plan Commission Thursday, including proposals for noise, shadow flicker and lighting on turbines.
Wind farm opponents want the town of Sharpsville in northwestern Tipton County to create a 2-mile zoning buffer around the city limits. Supporters of the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development approached the Sharpsville Town Council with the proposal. Sharpsville currently has no jurisdiction on zoning matters beyond the town boundary.
Many people living in Wells County were very vocal at Wednesday night's meeting showing opposition to the vote. Lautzenheiser said he understands why people are against the vote. "We have a new ordinance that has a bigger setback requirement, however, it can't apply to these because it was filed first," he said.
Changes in the Tipton County wind ordinance could be considered by the county commissioners as early as September following action by the Plan Commission. A moratorium on any future wind energy development until Oct. 1 or a review of the wind ordinance was completed was imposed by the Tipton County Commissioners earlier this year.
Developers of the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm, juwi Wind, in May asked the BZA to consider modifiying the setback requirement, which was imposed in March as part of a conditional use permit. At the time, juwi Wind officials said the project couldn't move forward with a 1,500-foot setback.
Moore said the recommendation will consider setbacks to neighboring properties for the placement of turbines, noise levels and permitted uses. In Howard County, wind farms are allowed in most areas with the only requirement being approval of location improvement permits for each turbine. "Everything is on the table," Moore said. "We are taking into consideration the comments from opponents, leaseholders and working with E.ON."
Last month, the Clinton County board of commissioners approved a non-binding motion to keep the county wind farm free. "I actually wanted to put it to bed before they came," President Skip Evans said.
Though wind farms were not meant to be the focus of the discussion on Tipton County's new comprehensive plan, during the public hearing Thursday, 18 of the 21 people who commented discussed wind farm development. By an 8-to-1 vote, the Tipton County Plan Commission recommended the adoption of the new comprehensive plan.
In March, the Tipton County BZA approved a conditional use permit for the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm with conditions that included a 1,500-foot setback from the property line of non-participating property owners and a property value guarantee. Juwi Wind on May 23 sought to modify the setback requirement and submitted a property value guarantee plan to the BZA.
The Area Plan Commission drew up an ordinance in March 2012, stating all their requirements, including a set-back distance of 1,000 ft. from a home. However, that ordinance was amended in Nov. making the set-back 1,800 ft. from a property line. That amendment took effect May 2013.
For nearly an hour the commissioners conducted a public hearing and allowed those in attendance to present new information for their consideration. Dennis Thornton from Bremen said, “I strongly encourage banning commercial wind turbines in Marshall County due to our high population density and known factual, not perceived, negative aspects and dangers of wind turbines.”
Residents in Howard County have recently begun urging the commissioners to change the setback requirements. Wind farm opponents are seeking a setback of 4,921 feet from non-participating property lines. The Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals approved the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm planned by juwi Wind with the requirement of a 1,500-foot setback from property lines.
Bledsoe explained it had been been no secret that E-ON had been looking at Delaware and Randolph counties for wind energy and there was nothing for government to do until some rules were in place. Rybarczrk had said other counties like Marshall at Plymouth, were imposing a moratorium for wind farms.