No wind farm here: commissioners look to ban commercial wind farms

MARSHALL CO. — Marshall County commissioners may have put the kibosh on a commercial wind farm in the area.

Monday, commissioners decided they will have County Attorney Jim Clevenger draft a resolution to ban commercial wind farms in the county. Once the resolution is prepared, it will go to the Plan Commission for a vote, then several public hearings will be held before the ban can be made official.

"We haven't had one person give us positive feedback (on the wind farm proposal)," noted Commissioner Jack Roose in Monday's commissioner meeting.

Plan Commission members couldn't agree on a course of action to take last week, as they voted 4-4 on a motion to follow the Commissioners if they banned wind farms in the county.

Monday, Commissioner president Kevin Overmyer said that he believes the Plan Commission wants the commissioners to be "the heavy" in the situation and bring the official resolution to ban wind farms.

Commissioner Deb Griewank clarified that this ban would apply only to commercial wind farms, not individual wind turbines located at a person's home for their own personal use.

Overmyer further said he's uncomfortable with the fact that no company proposing to build a wind farm has been present in any of the recent meetings to discuss the issue. Griewank pointed out that commissioners as a board have heard almost exclusively from those against a wind farm in the area.

"I just don't think that (wind turbine farms) are a good fit for Marshall County," said Overmyer.

He said that among other issues, Marshall County has too dense of a population to support adequate setbacks for the turbines.

County Plan Director Ralph Booker said later that the ultimate decision to ban wind farms is up to the commissioners, not the Plan Commission. He added that the change will require a minimum of two public hearings, one at the next Plan Commission meeting April 25 and another at a later commissioner meeting.

"The plan commission can turn (the resolution) back in with either a positive or negative recommendation or no recommendation," said Booker.

If the resolution is approved a county zoning ordinance will have to be rewritten and wind farms as a special use variance will no longer be allowed in Ag 1 and Ag 2 districts.

"We will still have developmental standards for what we call smaller wind generation," said Booker, referring to a single wind turbine for personal use.

Booker said that if a ban is put into place, he's not sure if local leaders will hear from commercial wind farm companies again.

"The message to people thinking about putting in a commercial wind farm will be that people are not wanting that in Marshall County," said Booker. "That could change, but that's the message that's been heard."