Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 29, 2013

Alternates to hear wind farm permit next month

3 BZA members say they have conflicts of interest

By Ken de la Bastide
Kokomo Tribune

Tipton — Three members of the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals are recusing themselves from hearing the request for a conditional use permit for the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in northwestern Tipton County.

Juwi Wind is proposing to construct a $300 million, 150-megawatt wind farm with up to 94 wind turbines in Prairie and Liberty townships. If approved, construction is expected to start this year and be completed in 2014.

Steve Edson, planning director for Tipton County, said Tuesday that three members of the BZA believe they have a direct or indirect conflict of interest over leases signed with property owners with juwi Wind.

Bill Peters, Mark Noble and Jack Hughes all indicated they would not be able to hear the request for the conditional use permit.

The Tipton County Council earlier this month voted to approve a 10-year tax abatement for the Prairie Breeze project.

The BZA meeting is set for Feb. 25. Edson said a location for the meeting has not been determined.

Edson said the Tipton County Plan Commission will name one alternate and the Tipton County Board of Commissioners will select two alternates. Commissioner Phil Heron said the process to name the alternates by the commissioners has started.

When E.ON Climate & Renewables received BZA approval for the Wildcat Wind Farm in eastern Tipton County, there were two alternate members that took part in the discussion and decision. The vote for a special exception was approved unanimously by the BZA.

The Tipton Chamber of Commerce is hosting a public meeting at 5:15 p.m. Feb. 19 that will include a presentation from Eric Simmons, director of project development for the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm.

The meeting will take place at the Tipton County Foundation, 1020 W. Jefferson St. There is no cost to attend.