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March 27, 2013

Wind energy moratorium to be considered

Tipton Plan Commission sets special meeting.

Tipton — The Tipton County Plan Commission has set a special meeting for 4:30 p.m. today in the first floor conference room of the Tipton County Courthouse.

Included on the agenda is discussion of stopping any new wind farm applications on a temporary basis until lingering questions surrounding health and safety issues and protecting the property values of surrounding land owners are answered.

The special meeting comes just days after the Tipton County Commissioners turned down a request Monday for a moratorium on new wind farm permit applications sought by the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development. The commissioners refused to vote on the request, referring it instead to the Plan Commission for consideration.

Plan Commission members Jim Ashley and Helen Tragesser requested the meeting.

Both Ashley and Tragesser have attended some CRD meetings in their fight to stop the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in Liberty and Prairie townships.

Steve Edson, director of the Planning Department, said Tuesday he received an email from Ashley and Tragesser setting the time and place of the meeting.

“Our bylaws state any two members have the authority to request a special meeting,” Edson said. “The president can also request a special meeting.”

Edson said there are nine members on the Plan Commission and it takes five members to have the quorum required to take action.

CRD member Jeff Hoover said a number of group members will be at the Thursday meeting.

“I don’t know if they will take public comments,” Hoover said. “I’m optimistic by nature, I believe the Plan Commission will approve it.”

Any action by the Plan Commission is a recommendation that has to be sent to the Board of Commissioners for final approval.

Hoover said he hopes the commissioners approve a moratorium if the Plan Commission makes that recommendation. But he was not optimistic the issue would have the necessary two commissioners’ votes.

Last week the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals approved a conditional use permit for the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm, but with several conditions.

Those conditions were: an increase in the wind turbine setbacks from 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet from the property line — not buildings on the property — and a requirement that juwi Wind develop a plan guaranteeing property values for non-participating landowners. The guaranteed property value plan must be submitted to the BZA for approval.

Juwi Wind has proposed the construction of as many as 94 wind turbines at a cost of $300 million which will generate up to 150 megawatts of electricity.

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