Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 26, 2013

Prairie Breeze meeting set

County Board of Zoning Appeals still is short a member

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor

— TIPTON — The Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals has set a date to hear the conditional use permit request for the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm.

The BZA set the meeting for 5 p.m. March 20 in the Tipton High School auditorium.

The meeting was supposed to happen Monday night at the high school, but the Tipton County Commissioners still need to name an alternate to the five-member board. Commissioners said they hope to name that alternate during a special meeting Thursday night.

Juwi Wind is proposing a $300 million wind farm in the county. It wants to place 94 wind turbines in Prairie and Liberty townships in northwestern Tipton County. Originally, the BZA members discussed postponing the meeting for 45 days. They later said they only needed 21 to 45 days to secure the high school auditorium.

The plan commission and commissioners had to name three alternates to consider the conditional use permit, filed by juwi Wind for the construction of the 150-megawatt wind farm.

The commissioners originally named Neal Planalp and John Law to serve as alternates to hear the petition for the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm.

Law stepped down last week because of a potential conflict of interest involving land in Clinton County his family owns that may fall under a lease for a wind turbine in the future.

Emily West, spokesperson for the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development (CRD), said Tuesday the group had hoped the meeting would have been delayed longer.

She thought it would be. The fifth BZA member has not been selected.

During the meeting of the Tipton County Commissioners Monday, Commissioners Phil Heron and Joe VanBibber indicated they were still searching for the third alternate member of the BZA.

VanBibber said a fifth member has to be named to the BZA to hear the juwi Wind request.

“Our objective is to find a person acceptable to do the job and have no conflicts of interest,” he said. “It is not easy to find someone.”

That alternate will join Planalp, plan commission alternate Carroll Cohee and BZA members Jerry Acres and Frank Zickmund in hearing the request for the conditional use permit.

Last week the BZA members established the ground rules for the hearing.

Both juwi Wind and the CRD will be allowed 75 minutes to make their presentations. A group of farmers who support the wind farm project will be given 30 minutes for a presentation.

Members of the public wishing to address the BZA will be allowed time. There will be sign-up sheets at the high school and a cut-off time will be established.

That will be followed by 15 minutes of rebuttal from the CRD and juwi Wind.

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