By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune staff writer
Newly-appointed Tipton County Plan Commission member Carl Cohee has been named as an alternate to hear the conditional use permit for the proposed Prairie Breeze wind farm.
The Plan Commission had to appoint an alternate member to the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals when member Mark Noble recused himself because of a potential conflict of interest.
The BZA is scheduled to consider the request from juwi Wind Energy for the conditional use approval for the construction of up to 94 wind turbines at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at Tipton High School.
The Tipton County Commissioners have yet to name two alternates to the BZA.
Only three people on the Plan Commission were eligible for the appointment Thursday: Cohee, Paul Julius and Helen Tragesser. All three said they had no relatives which have signed lease agreements with a wind company in Tipton County.
Plan Director Steve Edson said there are no guidelines dealing with a potential conflict of interest and that each member had to make up their own mind.
Edson said he hasn’t received a response from Tipton County attorney John Brooke concerning conflict of interest questions that was made two weeks ago.
Julius was nominated as the alternate by Plan Commission member Jim Ashley, but declined the appointment and nominated Cohee.
Tragesser said this was Cohee’s first Plan Commission meeting and hadn’t been to a BZA meeting in the past. She was confident that Cohee would become informed.
She asked if he would be able to withstand pressure from the public or public officials that may sway his vote on the proposed wind farm.
“I feel I’m objective,” Cohee said. “I will be swayed by facts only.”
Ashley said the board was in an awkward position because so many members of the Plan Commission have a potential conflict of interest.
“You’re representing the Plan Commission on the BZA,” he said. “There will be a lot of pressure on you, but I’m sure you will use the highest degree of impartiality.”
Cohee said he would do the best he can and felt he could be impartial.
Cohee said he owned property in two other counties when asked by Tragesser about other land holdings. He said he would look at leasing ground if the deal was ever offered by a wind energy company.
In other business, the draft of the new proposed comprehensive plan for Tipton County prepared by Illinois firm Houseal Lavigne Associates.
The draft proposal was presented to the Steering Committee and Plan Commission members for review with a meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. March 6 to get comments from the Steering Committee members.
“This is a draft copy of the comprehensive plan,” Edson said prior to the meeting.
“The work done is pretty good. The Steering Committee and Plan Commission members will review and recommend any changes.”
Houseal Lavigne Associates was paid $52,000 to create a new comprehensive plan for the county.
The draft proposal will be available in the next few days at HLPlanning
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