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Public hearings Dec. 10 on renewable energy bans; Comments will be accepted on solar moratorium, wind turbine setbacks

  • Dec 3, 2020
  • 586 views
Source: 
The Courier-Times

The Henry County Planning Commission will meet via Zoom at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10 to hear two proposals from the Henry County Commissioners to amend the Henry County Zoning Code.

The Henry County Commissioners voted 2-1 in October to ban all commercial solar projects and effectively ban all commercial wind projects in Henry County. Commissioner Ed Yanos voted against both proposals.

The first amendment is to forbid solar projects in Henry County. The second amendment is to increase wind turbine setbacks to 3,300 feet from neighboring property lines.

To access and participate via Zoom, use the link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88437530802 or dial in at 1-312-626-6799, Meeting ID: 884 3753 0802.

The meeting will include public hearings on both proposals. People wishing to speak will be given the opportunity. The planning commission office strongly encourages members of the public to submit their views before the meeting by mailing the Planning Commission at the Henry County Office Building, 1201 Race St., Suite 214, New Castle, Indiana 47362, email the Planning Commission at djacobs@henrycounty.in.gov or fax the Planning Commission at (765) 521-7072.

All written correspondence filed with the Zoning Administrator before the hearing will be considered and will be a part of the hearing record.

Proposed amendments

The first proposed amendment is to add a definition of a "Commercial Solar Energy System" to the Henry County Zoning Code. The amendment would then add "Commercial Solar Energy Systems are not permitted in any District" to the code.

The second proposed amendment is to the Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS) ordinance that was passed in 2018.

The amendment would establish that any WECS or Meteorological Tower may not be closer than 3,300 feet from any property boundary line, dedicated roadway, railroad right-of-way, or overhead electrical transmission or distribution lines.

Also that any WECS Tower may not be closer than 3,300 feet from the limits of an incorporated municipality, or the property boundary line of a Public School, hospital, or nursing home.

The proposed changes to setbacks take out consideration of the height of the wind turbine or meteorological tower in relation to the distance they have to be from neighboring property lines.

The amendment would still allow setbacks to be reduced to no more than 1.1 times the WECS Tower Height or 550 feet with written consent of abutting property owners or municipalities.

In neighboring Rush County, an industrial wind farm project was halted after the Rush County Board of Zoning Appeals enacted a 2,300-feet setback for wind turbines from neighboring property lines.

Special Rush Superior Court Judge Matthew D. Bailey ruled in 2016 – a ruling upheld in 2017 by the Indiana Court of Appeals – that, despite the wind company's argument that the increased setbacks would essentially be a "prohibition" on wind turbines in Rush County, the increased setback distance does not prevent wind turbines from being constructed in Rush County – they simply must be 2,300 feet from a non-participating landowner's property line.

The same would likely be true with Henry County's proposed 3,300-foot wind turbine setbacks.

A complete text of the proposed revisions to the Henry County Zoning Code may be reviewed on the Henry County website under Planning Commission and Upcoming Cases (http://www.henryco.net/PlanningCommUpcomingCases.aspx) and labeled "Commissioner's proposal Commercial Solar Ban" and "Commissioner's proposal WECS setback" or during regular business hours at the Henry County Planning Commission office, 1201 Race St., Suite 214, New Castle.

The proposed amendments to the Henry County Zoning Code will be applicable to all unincorporated areas in Henry County and all municipalities that have elected to be subject to the Henry County Zoning Ordinance.

The planning commission may also consider unfinished business or other new business on the Dec. 10 Zoom meeting.

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