Opposition to ordinance expected

The Whitley County Plan Commission is bracing for a public meeting tonight that could make last month’s hotly-debated forum on wind farms seem like a friendly game of patty-cake.On Oct. 20 the commission met with the intention to approve an ordinance designed to regulate wind-driven power plants in the county.The board at that time decided to table the decision for a month, make a few changes to the ordinance and return in November to reconsider the proposal.If recently-distributed flyers and e-mails by a county resident is any indicator, tonight’s meeting could be far more volatile than the last.Stanger, who listed himself as a concerned citizen of Whitley County, produced and distributed a four-page flyer condemning “wind utility power plants” and sent e-mails to The Post & Mail, county planner Dave Sewell and the county’s board of commissioners.The e-mail was also sent to John Doster of Wind Capital Group, a company that has shown interest in installing windmills in the county.In the e-mail, Stanger claimed to have more than 1,000 signatures of citizens calling for a moratorium on wind farms and added that a lawyer had been hired.The plan commission is meeting in executive session one hour prior to the regular meeting to discuss what it calls “litigation that has been threatened.”Stanger said he expects a large turnout at tonight’s 7 p.m. meeting in the county’s government center and had a pointed remark aimed at Doster.“Wind Capital Group, go away. We do not want you here,” Stanger wrote.Stanger added that while he and others are not opposed to harnessing the power of wind, opponents to the wind farms have a big issue with one item of the proposed Whitley County Wind Ordinance, which is up for approval at tonight’s meeting.The issue — setbacks.The original draft of the ordinance called for a minimum setback of 1,500 feet from a windmill or tower to the dwelling of any non-co-applicant, or resident that has no financial interest in the project.According to Sewell, the ordinance was changed from its original setback to 1,200 feet. Detractors are calling for a setback of 2,500 feet.“In my opinion (and some others that I know), simply put the setback in the WECS (Wind Energy Conversion System) to 2,500 feet from any property line, and the right thing will have been done,” Stanger wrote.This setback would be even greater than if the 1,500 setback had been changed to that distance since the amended setback from 1,500 to 1,200 feet refers to a dwelling. The proposed setback to a property line currently stands at 1.1 times the height of the tower or windmill at its highest point.