Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

August 30, 2013

Prairie Breeze Wind Farm fight headed to court

BZA limits property value guarantee testimony.

TIPTON – The battle over the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in northwestern Tipton County will be continued in court as developer juwi Wind attempts to modify the conditions imposed on the project.

Attorneys for juwi Wind and leaseholders in the area of the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm contend their clients were denied due process by the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals.

“The chairman of the BZA has created a dysfunctional, unstable business environment in Tipton County for investors looking to create economic development opportunities and jobs,” Michael Rucker, CEO of juwi Wind, said Thursday.

“Ground rules change at a moment’s notice based on arbitrary political decisions, not regulations that have been adopted by those elected in the community. Fortunately, citizens still have the courts to rely upon. Unfortunately, that is where we are headed.”

The BZA met Wednesday at the Tipton High School to hear testimony regarding a proposed property value guarantee for the project, but no testimony was heard after BZA President Jerry Acres decided to limit the scope of the hearing.

In March, the BZA approved a conditional use permit for the wind farm with conditions requiring a 1,500-foot setback from property lines and creation of a property value guarantee to protect non-participating property owners in the project area.

The company submitted a plan covering residential property within three-quarters of a mile of a wind turbine and involving only the first sale after Prairie Breeze goes into operation. It limited juwi’s liability to $1 million.

Acres got into heated arguments with Mary Solada, attorney for juwi Wind, and Tim Ochs, who was representing the leaseholders.

Solada said juwi Wind was prepared to present a property value guarantee and was prepared to provide testimony that it would not benefit residents of Tipton County.

Acres asked if juwi was going to argue against a property value guarantee, to which Solada said it was an option.

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