Wind Turbine Concerns Continue to Be Discussed with Pulaski County Commissioners

Pulaski County officials continue to gather information about wind turbines. Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer told the county commissioners Monday he plans to put together an informational meeting on the topic. “We don’t want to have any wind company representatives there,” he explained. “We do not want to call in anyone from Fulton, Cass, Miami counties who are fighting it now. What we would like to do, I think, and we’ll have to discuss these issues, is bring elected officials and residents who are actually living with wind now in neighboring counties, instead of getting the perspectives of people who are fighting it, preferably people on both sides of the issue, residents of White County or Benton County.”

Pulaski County’s existing rules on wind turbines would also be reviewed. “Go over the ordinance, this is what the rules are like right now. Here are the setbacks. Here are the rules about road repair agreements, decommissioning agreements when a particular turbine is no longer good, where, legally, they can be permitted, with what zoning permissions,” Origer said. The meeting would be open to the public, as well as the elected and appointed officials who will ultimately be making the decisions.

County Attorney Kevin Tankersley recently attended a seminar on wind turbines. He said, ultimately, the county commissioners will have to decide whether they want them or not. “There’s some counties that are craving this because it does produce revenue, and the landowners want it because it produces revenue for them as well,” he said. “Or are you, generally speaking, set out to be opposed to it, in which case you can draft your ordinances to be about as restrictive as possible and say, ‘We’re not friendly to wind power and we don’t want that in our county,’ and those companies are probably just going to go right around you because they’re not interested in fighting it.”

Commissioner Mike McClure said the vast majority of comments he’s heard have been against wind turbines. “The only support I’ve heard is people that own some good-sized chunks of land that live away and don’t farm it themselves. That’s the only support I’ve heard.”

For now, Origer stressed that any wind turbine proposals within the county’s jurisdiction would have to go before the county’s board of zoning appeals or plan commission for a public hearing. While a number of filings have been made with the Federal Aviation Administration, no permit applications for large-scale wind turbines have been made at the county level, according to Building Inspector Doug Hoover.

However, almost half of the wind turbines proposed for Pulaski County are in the Town of Francesville’s jurisdiction. Origer doesn’t think the town’s zoning laws include guidelines for wind turbines, which makes the approval process unclear.

The commissioners liked the idea of holding an informational session, but some residents who were in attendance Monday to voice their opposition to the wind turbines didn’t want outside influence entering the conversation. Origer plans to bring the idea to the Pulaski County Advisory Plan Commission when they meet Monday evening at 7:00 in the Pulaski County Highway Garage in Winamac. The meeting is being moved from the Winamac Municipal Utilities Complex to accommodate a larger audience, according to the Pulaski County Building and Zoning Department.