By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune staff writer
The Prairie Breeze Wind Farm will be allowed to move forward, as long as its developers guarantee it won’t diminish property values and turbines are built at least 1,500 feet from property lines.
Following eight hours of discussion Wednesday at the Tipton High School, members of the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals approved a conditional use permit for juwi Wind.
The Prairie Breeze Wind Farm being proposed by juwi Wind is a $300 million development that would generate up to 150 megawatts of electricity through up to 94 wind turbines.
The board voted 3-2 to accept the application but added two conditions that were crucial to the decision. Voting for the measure were Carroll Cohee, Robert Powell and Frank Zickmund. Voting against were Jerry Acres and Neil Planalp.
Alternate BZA member Cohee made a motion to increase the setbacks from 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet from the property line — not buildings on the property — and to require juwi Wind to develop a plan that will guarantee property values for non-participating land owners. The guaranteed property value plan has to be submitted to the BZA for approval.
The only county in the U.S. which has a guaranteed property value provision for the placement of a wind farm is in DeKalb County, Illinois. In the event a property owner can’t sell his or her home for the appraised value, the wind energy company will provide the difference between the sale price and the appraised value at closing.
Following the vote, juwi officials declined to comment on the conditions placed on the permit.
juwi Wind has 30 days to file an appeal.
Pat Heck, attorney for the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development, said he was pleased with the way the board acted.
“I like the property set backs of 1,500 feet,” Heck said. “The decision was better than expected.”
Heck said the guarantee of property values is telling juwi to “put up or shut up.”
More than 140 local residents signed up to address the board members both for and against the project. Each was given two minutes to make their case.
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