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County Plan Commission Tables Proposed Amendment to Wind Engery Ordinance

January 24, 2013

01/25/13 It was standing room only at Thursday night’s Marshall County Plan Commission meeting as members were presented with a proposed amendment to the County’s Wind Energy Conversion System in the zoning ordinance.

  County Plan Director Ralph Booker read the current ordinance and then the proposed changes so everyone at the meeting knew what was being considered. One of the biggest changes is setbacks.  The current ordinance calls for a 1,000 feet from the boundary of any L-1 or T-1 zoning district and the proposal is to increase it to 2,640 feet or one half mile.  It also wants the half mile set back from the property line of any property with or without a wind tower and the 2,640 feet from any public park.  Their proposal recommends a 1½ mile setback from any nature preserve or wetland over a half acre, and from any school, church, ball field or municipal boundary.  The proposal also seeks a 3 mile set pack from any public or private, natural or man-made lake over an acre or from any river.

  Stephan Snyder from Snyder Morgan Attorneys at Law out of Syracuse was there representing Marshall County Citizens.  He spoke of our country’s oil dependency and the need for additional sources of energy, and how the wind turbines are subsidized by the government.  Snyder said the proposed amendment was put together with significant scientific study.

In discussing the increased setbacks, Snyder said, “There are three needs for the increased setbacks; health protection, noise and land values.” Other reasons for changes included wildlife and the eagles at Lake Maxinkuckee, esthetics and taxes.

During the Public Hearing 10 people spoke in favor of the ordinance amendment.  Thor Hebner of Plymouth discussed the effects on Doppler radar from the turbines.  Bill Wallace, also from Plymouth asked if there were studies of the affects to animals that are exposed to the sounds from the units.  He also wanted to know if the wiring to distribute the energy would be underground or above ground.

Cathy Clark from the Culver Environmental Council discussed their concerns with the effects to the lake and watershed which encompasses 8,000 acres. She also talked about the 6 eagles that have taken up residency at the lake and a recent study that showed 6 species of birds that are only find at Lake Max and not in the rest of Marshall County.

  Two years ago Travis Dexter from Culver asked the Plan Commission to increase the set back from the 1,000 feet to the half-mile.  He again asked for support of the proposed changes.

  Hal Sullivan told the Plan Commission he went to DeKalb, IL where NextEra had a wind farm.  He said there were empty homes, the land around the turbines was messy and lots of land was taken out of use.   A visit to Chalmers, IN where another company built a wind farm…folks were happy and the lots were mowed and well taken care of.  He was warning about NextEra.

After about 50 minutes of public discussion the public hearing was closed.  Members of the Plan Commission discussed the amendment….  Booker said they could approve it, deny it, approve part of it, table it or send it on to the county commissioner with no recommendation.

Board member Larry Fisher said he wanted to take it item by item because there were parts he agreed with but some proposals he felt the need discussion.

There was a bit more discussion and then the motion was made to table any action for further investigation with the proposed amendment to be considered again at the February 28th meeting.

One Response to “ County Plan Commission Tables Proposed Amendment to Wind Engery Ordinance ”

  1. Kathy Bottorff on March 21, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Wind Turbine Comparable Scenarios

    Let’s say a neighbor sells to a new owner who moves in approx. 1500’ + or -feet across the field from you and they in turn decide to play music or generate some other offensive noise to you and your family. Then this continues off and on around the clock (24/7) that would be approx. 50db or even 40 db approx. 100’ from your house. Now add very low inaudible frequencies produced by Wind Farm Towers that is being researched in regards to neighbors to Wind Farms that has brought health complaints of such from around the world. Do you feel that would affect you and your loved ones’ sleep or mental health, and well being, etc. in any respect if Wind Farms were to be allowed in our County?
    Then we could throw in addition to the above that the same new neighbor might want to put up a 450’ or taller flag pole (with proper permitting). Then he attaches this huge flag that is approx. 130’ or longer that with the right winds that in the right sunlight whips so that the light in your favorite room of the house would be like the sunlight goes on and off like the flipping of a switch. Annoying? It seems to agitate and annoy some folks where it happens to them. No doubt this last portion of the scenario would never happen, but this visual reflects the idea that correlates to wind farm’s effects to its neighbors.
    Usually zoning laws refer to the “Quiet enjoyment” of one’s property. Would the above scenarios affect yours? This directly correlates to Wind Farms.
    Another big issue here of years past over communication towers was the issue of a neighboring property owners “view” or “vista” being affected by tower siting. This infringement seems to be ignored in respect to Wind Farms.
    Now add new declarations by manufactures of Wind Farm towers that new generation Wind Generation Towers will reach an overall height of approximately 900’ to the utmost blade tip and the overall width of new blades would encompass a swath of approximately 800’ across. This would be staggering to the view for many more miles than a unit half its size as originally proposed in Southern Marshall County by Nextera. These towers would be nearly as tall as the 1000’ high Broadcast towers on the south side of South Bend and approximately 800’ across and rotating. Think this would affect any neighbors?
    Why would we let the receiving pocketbooks of the farms trample the rights of the non-receiving neighbors? It has also not been proven that the taxes from Wind Farms will offset the heavy asset devaluation, and tax losses from non-recipient homes adjacent to Wind Farms.
    The County Commissioners stated that the zoning should be what is best for ALL of Marshall County. Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t see that Wind Farms are good for all, as the benefits are for a few and the negatives are for at least as many folks and probably more
    John Stone