Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 4, 2013

Tipton Co. may revise wind ordinance

Proponents and opponents unhappy with new rules

By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — TIPTON – The Tipton County Board of Commissioners could be voting on a revised ordinance for the regulation of wind farms that received a favorable recommendation from the Tipton County Plan Commission that have both sides in the contentious fight over wind energy unhappy with the final product.

Following months of discussions between Plan Commission members and opponents and proponents of wind energy in the county, the Plan Commission voted 5-to-3 last month on revisions to the county’s ordinance.

The commissioners can either accept or reject the proposed amendments to the wind ordinance or send it back to the Plan Commission with recommended changes.

The Tipton County Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. today on the second floor of the county courthouse and Steve Edson, director of the Tipton County Planning Department hopes they vote to certify the amended ordinance.

The final version of the amended ordinance has both supporters and opponents of wind energy unsatisfied with the final version.

Jeff Harlow, a supporter of wind farms, said the proposed changes are “absolutely opposed by landowners.

“It practically shuts everything down,” he said. “With the setbacks there is no hope for wind farm development.”

Proponents were disappointed that proposed “Good Neighbor” policy language was not included which would have required developers to inform surrounding property owners of a planned development 30 days before any official action was sought.

Jeff Hoover with the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development said the group would have liked to have seen a complete ban.

“The revised ordinance does offer some protections to the citizens of Tipton County,” he said. “It’s not a perfect ordinance, but better than what we now have.”

Opponents of wind farms wanted included a property value guarantee which would have protected property owners for the loss of any value of their property based on the proximity to a wind turbine.

These are the changes made to the existing ordinance with the recommendations from property owners in support of wind energy and the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development, opposed to wind farm development:

Setbacks

The ordinance sets a 1,500 foot setback the center of a wind turbine from property lines and 2,640 feet from an occupied residence or commercial building. Turbines have to be one mile from the county line and one mile from town limits. Proponents of wind energy want a 1,000 foot setback to the property line and 1,500 feet from a dwelling. A setback of 2,640 feet from the nearest town or city boundary. The CRD wanted a total ban on new wind farm developments or a minimum setback of three miles from a residential property line.

Noise

The amended county ordinance sets the noise level at 5 decibels above the ambient level. The CRD proposal was 5 decibels above ambient levels, but they wanted a different standard for day and night and readings taken during each of the four seasons. Proponents recommended the noise level shouldn’t exceed the pre-construction/operation level of more than 10 percent every hour over the 5 decibels above ambient level.

Shadow flicker

The proposed ordinance sets a maximum for shadow flicker of 30 minutes per day and 30 hours per year. Proponents agreed with the limits but wanted a study done that would shut down the turbines during possible shadow flicker. CRD wanted a 3,300 foot setback from a residence that could be impacted by shadow flicker.

Permit process

The recommended change by the Plan Commission is for the creation of overlay districts for the placement of a wind farm that would be applied for by a developer. The request would require approval from the Plan Commission and Board of Commissioners for the establishment of the district. Any variances from the setbacks requirement would be considered by the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals. Opponents wanted a total ban on new developments. Proponents wanted wind farms to continue as a permitted use in areas zoned agriculture.