Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 31, 2013

Wind farm opponents hire attorney

Members prepare fight before Board of Zoning Appeals.

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor

Sharpsville — The Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals has set ground rules for the battle over the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm.

Juwi Wind, which has requested a conditional use permit to construct 94 wind turbines at a cost of $300 million in Liberty and Prairie townships, and Citizens for Responsible Development, which is attempting to stop the development, will each make one-hour presentations before the board. A hearing is slated for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at Tipton High School.

BZA members also will hear comments from the public, then juwi Wind and the citizens group will be given 30 minutes for rebuttal.

“The BZA is the last step,” Emily West said Wednesday, at a meeting of the citizens group at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library’s South Branch. “They want to hear evidence. We need experts to address harm to neighbors, impact on property values and medical concerns.”

Citizens for Responsible Development is in the process of circulating petitions in opposition to the proposed wind farm.

John West, president of the group, said there are five wind farms planned for Tipton County.

Currently E.ON Climate & Renewables’ Wildcat Wind Farm is operating in eastern Tipton County. Prairie Breeze, if approved, would be the second. E.ON has plans for another phase of the Wildcat Wind Farm in the county, and last year purchased leases from AES on the west side of the county.

John West said the citizens group wants a reasonable zoning ordinance for the county and has been urging county officials to made changes in the existing ordinance.

“I urge everyone to visit Windfall,” he said of the existing wind farm. “See the wind farm for yourself.”

Volunteer Brian Key said people have been working around the clock preparing for the BZA meeting.

“We have a short amount of time and eight people won’t get it done,” he said, urging people to volunteer with several committees.

Key said the county ordinance allows a wind turbine 1,000 feet from the nearest corner of a structure, and the group wants to see the setback requirement at a half-mile from the property line.

The Prairie Breeze Wind Farm is using a setback of 1,250 feet, which is identical to the setback on the Wildcat Wind Farm.

John West said the group has hired an attorney who worked to stop proposed wind farms in three other Indiana counties.

Fort Wayne attorney Patrick Hess will be working with the citizens group to put together a response to the wind farm development.

John West said the attorney will be leading the group’s presentation at the BZA meeting.

“If we can get a six month delay, maybe juwi will go away,” he said. “We’re trying to get the zoning ordinance changed.”

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