Resident defends wind turbine photos to Culver council
A Culver area resident was on hand at the Oct. 25 meeting of Culver’s town council to defend photos he had made available throughout the community pertinent to the controversial proposed wind farm in Marshall and Fulton Counties, a project the council was once more asked to take a formal postion upon.
Hank Bilsland, noting he had addressed the council a few months prior in hopes it would vote for or against the project, in which some 60 windmills would be placed near Culver and Argos, among other locales. He said he received an email describing comments made at the previous
council meeting questioning the authenticity of several photos of Lake Winnebego in Wisconsin, where placement of a number of towers has radically altered the view of the shoreline.
“Someone suggested (the photos) were digitally enhanced,” said Bilsland. “I assure you, they were not. I paid a photographer to take them, and he emailed them to me. I brought the photographer’s address if you want to contact him.”
Council member Ralph Winters acknowledged he had questioned the authenticity of the photos.
Bilsland also urged the council to take a vote on the proposed project, which he said could be “devastating” to the Culver community, specifically in the areas of reduced tourism and property values.
“Only a few people will gain anything from having these things on their properties,” he added. “Everybody else will be hurt by it. You’re cutting your tax base way more than you’ll pick up on these turbines.”
Council member Lynn Overmyer responded that the council had voted several times that the matter fell outside its jurisdiction, since the turbines would be placed outside the town limits. Council president Ginny Munroe noted the council had not taken a formal vote on the matter at all, and member Ed Pinder added many members feel differently about the project and that lack of unity led to the decision not to take a formal vote.
Overmyer said any vote for or against the project “would be a personal vote (and) wouldn’t be for the townspeople.”
Bilsland replied that the matter will “drastically affect a lot of those properties you’ve zoned,” and responding to Overmyer’s reiteration that the project is outside town limits, Bilsland said, “It means a lot (to the county) for the town to say (it’s for or against the project).”
No council member replied to Munroe’s request for motions for a vote on the mattter.
Among its actions, the council approved the proposed 2012 budget for the town of Culver of $1,820,340 a .6 percent increase from last year’s budget. Audience member Bill Githens, a member of the Union Township advisory board, noted he’d spoken with Culver Academies comptroller Rick Tompos, whom the town still had not contacted concerning $30,000 the Academies had pledged in previous years -- but so far not this year -- towards fire and EMS service. Town clerk Casey Howard siad a death in the family had prevented her from having time to contact Tompos, which she said she will do.
Munroe said she and Howard had looked into several properties around Culver repeatedly discussed for ordinance violations in maintenance and upkeep such as “debris, smelly things, appliances (in the yard),” and the like. She said existing ordinances “have a lot more teeth...than what you may remember in terms of what you can be cites for.” Council approved the list of properties and writing letters -- signed by the whole council and sent registered and first class -- to property owners warning of fines and other actions.
A fine of $50 was approved against a citizen for a trash fire less that 25 feet from a structure, a problem police chief Wayne Bean said was a repeat issue. Since the ordinance leaves the fine amount up to the council to determine, after some discussion it was agreed to go with Winters’ suggestion of $50 as an initial fine, with the option to go higher if violations continue.
Council also held a public hearing to rezone several areas from R1 (residential) to S1 (suburban) on West Mill and South Ohio Streets as well as C2 zoning on Anchors Way. Culver plan commission Bill Cleavenger, in the audience, noted the changes, which the commission had recommended, were “basically housekeeping” to make zoning in those areas consistent.
Approved was a resolution adopting the American Education Week proclamation read out loud by Winters, with a change to include both public and private schools as valuable for what they provide American children. The week of Nov. 13 through 19 marks the 90th annual observance.
Council approved $2,300 plus up to $500 installation fee for a chart recorder to better meter outgoing sewage from Culver Academies, the measurement of which various equipment issues has made difficult from time to time in recent years. Culver utilities manager Bob Porter said the recorder would allow detailed readings of flow, and would be “crucial in knowing when (equipment) failed.”
The council will contact grant writing firm Project Priorities in hopes of moving forward with creating a new comprehensive plan for Culver, at the urging of audience member Kevin Berger, who explained the existing plan, at 12 years old, is outdated on various levels. He said a planning grant through Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs is virtually a “given if we apply for it,” to cover the cost of the plan. Such a grant would require a 10 percent match from Culver, but could be requested up to $50,000 to cover the cost of the plan writing, which Berger said cost around $20,000 12 years ago.
In other discussion, audience member Don Baker praised the town for its leaf pickup and thanked the council and police for their work in enforcing noise ordinances, which he said is “making a difference in our neighborhood. The police have been very responsive.”
Council member Pinder expressed relief that West Shore Drive is now open after weeks of delay on a project at the Lake Maxinkuckee outlet culvert there.
“Even though (the delay was) not our fault, I kind of felt like it was,” he said. “I’m glad (people affected) didn’t behead some of us!
“We tried our best. I hate to talk about some company that didn’t try their best,” he added, referring to complaints about delays in action on a gas line at the site managed by a local power company, which audience and council members had previously cited as causing much of the holdup on the project.