By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
TIPTON — Less than two weeks before the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals rules on a requested permit for the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm, developer juwi Wind is proposing a buffer zone around residential developments.
Juwi plans to construct a 150-megawatt wind farm of up to 94 turbines in Prairie and Liberty townships. The cost is estimated at $300 million.
The Tipton County wind ordinance requires a 1,000-foot setback between a building and the nearest wind turbine. The company had previously agreed to a 1,250-foot setback, as was used in the development of the Wildcat Wind Farm in eastern Tipton County by E.ON Climate & Renewables.
Matt Heck, project manager of the Prairie Breeze development, said juwi is responding to concerns brought by residents of the area.
The nearest wind turbine to the Prairie Acres subdivision along U.S. 31 and 550 North will be 3,720 feet to the west, with two others more than 4,000 feet away.
Four wind turbines to the west of Sharpsville will range from 4,761 to 6,290 feet from the town limits. There also will be a quarter-mile buffer zone around the Kelley Farm Museum.
Heck said the county’s wind ordinance requires the wind turbines to be 1.1 times the height of the tower (approximately 400 feet) from U.S. 31. He said the company won’t place any turbines within 1,000 feet of the highway.
“That’s almost double what the county requires,” he said. “County officials wanted the additional setback for future development along the highway.
“These are significantly beyond the county’s required setbacks,” Heck said.
Heck said company officials are going door-to-door in Prairie Acres and Sharpsville to show residents the proposed buffer zone.
“It is being very well received,” he said. “They are happy to see we voluntarily extended the setbacks.”
Juwi Wind is hosting two public meetings this week to explain the benefits of the wind farm development. The meetings are from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Both meetings are at the Tipton County Foundation.
Members of Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development, which is attempting to halt the Prairie Breeze development, were not receptive to the buffer zones.
“Our goal is to rewrite the [wind] ordinance to have no wind farms in Tipton County,” Jeff Hoover said. “There are five wind farms planned for Tipton County. Right now, E.ON is signing up property owners in Jefferson and Cicero townships.”
Jim Ashley, a member of the Tipton County Plan Commission, said it is not just a battle in Prairie and Liberty townships, but a Tipton County battle.
“If juwi is stopped, maybe E.ON will change their plans,” he said. “If juwi wins, it will be a cakewalk for E.ON. Tipton County will be covered by wind farms.”
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