Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Indiana
Unless the Tipton County Plan Commission clarifies language in the revised wind ordinance, no wind farms will be built in the county next year. The Tipton County Board of Commissioners Monday voted to extend a moratorium on new wind energy developments through the end of 2014. The measure passed 2-1, with Commissioner Mike Cline dissenting.
The Tipton County Commissioners tabled the vote in early November on a measure that would modify the county’s rules for wind farm developments ...The Tipton County Plan Commission recommended approval of the changes on Oct. 17. Among the modifications are increased setback requirements and changes concerning noise, lighting and shadow flicker.
The commissioners have four choices when it comes to the changes. They may approve the amendments, deny the amendments, send the measure back to the plan commission for modifications or table it, Cline said. The commissioners have 90 days to take action.
The final version of the amended ordinance has both supporters and opponents of wind energy unsatisfied with the final version. Jeff Harlow, a supporter of wind farms, said “It practically shuts everything down. With the setbacks there is no hope for wind farm development.”
The BZA on March 20 approved a conditional use permit for Prairie Breeze and set a condition of a 1,500 foot setback from property lines and required the creation of a property value guarantee. ...It is alleged in the complaint that the BZA exceeded its authority on placing conditions on the wind farm development in the granting of a conditional use permit, outside the parameters of the county’s wind ordinance.
The new ordinance sets the following: setbacks will be 1,500 feet from a property line and 2,640 feet from a residential dwelling; shields will be placed on turbine lighting; shadow flicker is limited to 30 minutes per day and 30 hours per year; and noise levels are limited to 5 decibels above the ambient level. It also address how wind farms will be approved in the future.
"This has probably been the most divisive issue I've ever seen in this county," explained Tipton County Planning Commission President Jason Henderson. "It's pitted neighbor against neighbor and people who would wave to each other, now don't talk to each other."
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."