Pulaski Plan Commission Still Needs More Time to Work on Wind Turbine Regulation Updates

Proposed changes to Pulaski County’s wind turbine regulations still aren’t ready to go to a public hearing. On Tuesday, the county’s advisory plan commission picked up the discussion from its previous meeting about the county’s Unified Development Ordinance.

Members confirmed that they’d like to put in place a setback distance of four times the structure’s overall height, measured from the property line. They also seemed to agree to a nighttime noise limit of 40 decibels.

But a whole list of other changes that were expected to be addressed weren’t brought up. Those include setbacks for non-commercial wind operations, flicker issues, turbines’ impact on drainage tiles, and what happens when a wind turbine is decommissioned.

At the same time, it became apparent that the proposed public hearing date of June 12 would have to be pushed back anyway, due to an apparent scheduling oversight. It was pointed out that in order to meet the advertising requirements for a hearing, notice would have had to be published in this week’s edition of the Pulaski County Journal.

Much of the two-hour meeting involved a presentation and lengthy question-and-answer session with representatives from wind energy developer RES and a packed room of audience members. RES Development Manager Matt Boys said the company wouldn’t proceed with its proposed wind farm in Pulaski County, if the increased setbacks are put in place.

In the end, commission members agreed to meet again on June 12 at 7:00 p.m. to continue their discussion of the proposed changes, with a public hearing to be held June 21. Following the hearing, the plan commission would vote on the changes. They would then go to the county commissioners for final approval.

Some of those in attendance Tuesday complained about how long the process has taken so far. Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer pointed out that the plan commission typically researches an issue for several months before adjusting the Unified Development Ordinance. “We literally listened to you guys for 90 minutes, listened to the public for 90 minutes, before we ever actually had discussed any ordinance changes ourselves,” he said. “We had a meeting to do that. We did not get all the way through it, and so we had another meeting. We have laws that we have to obey. We have our own policies that we have to obey. I’m sorry that it hasn’t been convenient for you, but, quite frankly, this is not the only thing I have to do with my life. We have done it as quickly as we can.”

Still, Origer seemed concerned that many of the topics he expected the plan commission to address Tuesday were pushed off once again.