By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
Sometime this year there will be a new comprehensive plan approved in Tipton County that will guide future development over the next two decades.
The public was encouraged to provide input on the comprehensive plan during a Plan Commission meeting last week at the Tipton County Foundation.
As could be expected with the on-going debate in the county, the future of wind farm development was a topic of discussion.
Steve Edson, county Plan Director, said land use in Tipton County presently is mostly agricultural and will remain that for years to come.
He said the plan encourages development around the county’s city and towns where there are municipal services available.
Jason Henderson, president of the Tipton County Plan Commission, said the commission is dedicated to completing the comprehensive plan with citizen input.
“We will look at zoning ordinances as it relates to wind farms and the U.S. 31 corridor,” he said. “The comprehensive plan is an overall guide.”
Tipton Mayor Don Havens said it was important for the county board to pay special attention to land use planning around the city and other towns in the county.
“Neighborhoods require growth for survival,” he said. “Land use plans can eliminate or restrict growth. In the rural areas restrictions to growth may be acceptable.”
Havens said when the city completed a comprehensive plan in 2012 there was no discussion about wind farms in close proximity to Tipton.
He said there is a conflict in the plan as currently written because growth is encouraged around the incorporated areas, but wind farms restrict development.
Havens said the proposal is to allow wind farm development in all rural areas of the county, outside of the incorporated areas. He said that would impact potential growth in the county.
John West, president of the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development, which is opposed to wind farm development, said the group didn’t want industrial parks developed in the areas zoned for agricultural use.
He said a wind turbine is an industrial use and should be placed in designated industrial parks.
CRD member Kristen Leonard said a wind find is a change of land use.
Henderson responded that construction of a subdivision is a change of land use.
“Everything started as agricultural,” Henderson said, “and change has taken place over time.”
Plan Commission member Jim Ashley said the development of wind farms in the county will be addressed through potential changes in the county’s wind ordinance.
He said the setback from a primary residential structure to a wind turbine, currently 1,050 feet could be changed in the future.
“We can look at changing the changing of the setback to make the wind turbines compatible with residential development,” Ashley said.
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