Whitley County Seeks Consultant For Wind Farm Ordinance

By Maureen Mespell
By John W. Davis

January 19, 2011 Updated Oct 23, 2013 at 5:03 PM EDT

COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) -- Could residents see wind farms in Whitley County by 2013?

Indiana's NewsCenter was there as the Whitley County Plan Commission discussed "what's next" for a possible wind ordinance.

However, this is the second time that a wind ordinance has been proposed in Whitley County.

The first proposal was up for a vote in November 2010.

But a vote never took place, because one of the Plan Commission board members, had a conflict of interest.

That board member signed an agreement with the Wind Captial Group, to lease his land.

However, he did not disclose that fact, until months after he signed the contract.

Meanwhile. when community members would out about the conflict of interest, they cried foul.

Community members also raised questions of noise levels, safety and the decline of property values.

At that time, the Plan Commission decided to start the entire process over, which began in March 2010.

The Plan Commission unanimously voted to have the second proposal spearheaded by an independent consultant firm.

They believe that will show any wind ordinance discussion to be fair, transparent and community oriented.

"It was a consensus of the crowd and the board tonight (Wednesday, January 19, 2011), that hiring a consultant is a good next step," said newly elected Whitley County Plan Commission Chairman Brandon Forrester.

"I respect the idea of let's take a breath, let's take a step back because we wanna make sure that anything that gets done forward, doesn't have any kind of hint of impropriety because that's not what we're about. We're about building a project that has strong community support," Wind Capital Group Project Development Director John Doster said.

Doster shared that Wind Capital Group wants to build between 30-100 turbines.

He said the entire project would be power between 40,000 to 45,000 homes.

Doster also explained the project would infuse close to $700,000 dollars every year, in tax revenue.

The next Whitley County Plan Commission meeting is Wednesday, February 16, 2011.

During that meeting, the commission will review proposals from two to three prospective consulting firms.

One of those firms has already been identified as "Ground Rules Inc".

Any prospective consulting firm is expected to consider creating a citizen committee to discuss the potential wind farm ordinance.

That consulting firm may also be tasked with independently researching noise and safety concerns.

Also, the idea that property values will plummet because of wind turbines.

The consultant may also study the potential wind farm's impact and whether a wind farm can be built without passing a wind farm ordinance.

A vote on the wind ordinance is not expected for at least six months to one year.

Wind Capital Group is currently studying wind speeds and patterns.

They have not made a formal decision to build a wind farm in Whitley County yet.

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