Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

August 4, 2013

Public Eye

Kokomo Tribune

---- — Left out of the loop

Juwi Wind officials were taken aback this past week, when the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals denied the firm’s appeal of a March BZA decision.

The wind company’s expectation, going into the meeting, was a routine discussion of procedures for a future public hearing.

Instead, the BZA members voted 3-1 against juwi’s request for setback modifications.

One wonders if the BZA members weren’t happy about receiving an agenda just hours before their meeting.

Board members weren’t involved in an earlier conference call between attorneys for opponents and proponents of the wind farm, Tipton County Attorney John Brooke and Planning Director Steve Edson.

The guidelines for the meeting were hammered out during that call. It was decided the BZA would consider juwi’s setback request.

But BZA President Jerry Acres opened the meeting by stating he had concerns about the procedure to consider juwi’s request. The vote was taken, to the cheers of wind farm opponents in the audience.

Few options remain

The options remaining for juwi Wind to go forward with the proposed $300 million Prairie Breeze Wind Farm are dwindling.

When the conditional use permit was approved with a condition that turbines be located 1,500 from the property line of adjacent property, the company indicated that would make it difficult to start the wind farm.

Now that the BZA has held fast to that standard, juwi can either try to build with fewer wind turbines, or to file suit, hoping a judge will order the BZA to consider modifications.

Or juwi can decide to abandon the project.

Company officials were considering their legal options as of this weekend.

Scared off the customers

Kokomo head shop proprietor Gary Elvers is what some would call a rebel. Police call him a drug dealer. According to Elvers, he’s been prosecuted five times — three times in Cass County and twice in Howard County — for selling bongs, pipes, “spice” and “bath salts.” So far, prosecutors haven’t been able to make anything stick, although he still has nine pending charges in Howard County.

Elvers was last arrested last July, after lab results came back on items police seized in a March 19 raid. Even then, he refused to close his store, at the corner of Mulberry and Philips streets.

Today, however, there’s a For Sale sign out in front, and the place has been cleared out. According to Elvers, he closed last November.

“With the police and everything, I think a lot of customers were scared away. And then they raised my rent. It just became too expensive to stay open,” he said. His bank accounts remain frozen, while his case is pending. And the state legislature has banned most of what he previously sold. Elvers maintains he’s a victim of a pointless war on drugs, but he’s paying a high price for his recalcitrance.

A different ballgame

When Wayne Seybold, mayor of Marion, announced he was seeking the Republican Party nomination for Indiana State Treasurer in 2014, he didn’t realize it would be a different type of political campaign than he was accustomed to.

Last week Seybold said he was used to a campaign that involved a primary contest to win a party’s nomination. The Treasurer’s nomination, however, is decided at the state party convention by party chairmen and vice chairmen, and delegates to the state convention. The delegates aren’t determined until the May primary.