Wind Farm Discussion Divides Whitley County

By John W. Davis

March 15, 2011 Updated Mar 15, 2011 at 11:28 PM EDT

Columbia City, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Do Residents want wind farms in Whitley County?

That was the back and forth discussion at Tuesday night's Whitley County Plan Commission Meeting.

The Plan Commission is currently mulling over the idea of creating a wind farm ordinance, which would outline guidelines for any potential wind farms in Whitley County.

The idea of wind farms have been a very controversial and sometimes heated topic at recent Whitley County Plan Commission meetings.

Meanwhile, it seems like most residents have already made their minds up on the issue.

Many residents are staunchly "for" or "against" wind farms, with seemingly no middle ground.

About 50 people attended Tuesday night's Whitley County Plan Commission meeting in the basement of the Whitley County Government Center.

"I don't know whether my property value will go down," said Whitley County Resident Joan Null.

"I can't sell to someone without disclosing that there's a potential wind farm coming. What does that do to my resale value. Everybody knows it's location, location, location on real estate," said Null, a member of Whitley County Concerned Citizens, a vocal group of residents against wind farms in Whitley County.

Other residents against wind farms cite noise and safety concerns are wind turbine negatives.

"Since we live in a rural community, we have to do things that we can increase more income and put more jobs in the area," said Whitley County Resident Steven Sickafoose.

"I think the wind farms will create a lot of jobs, and also create a lot of dollars for different organizations in the community," said Sickafoose, who has already signed up some of his farm land to a potential wind energy company.

Meanwhile, Wind Capital Group, the organization testing wind speeds in Whitley County with the idea of possibly building wind farms previously said, the project would infuse close to $700,000 dollars every year, in tax revenue.

Whitley County Plan Commission Chairman Brandon Forrester told Indiana's NewsCenter a wind farm ordinance vote will not take place for at least another six months, possibly sometime in September.

Meanwhile, the Whitley County Plan Commission approved the creation of a Wind Energy Ordinance Committee Tuesday Night.

The nine-person committee will be made up of three community members who are for wind farms, three community members who are against wind farms and three neutral members from the Whitley County Plan Commission.

Those three members will be Chairman Brandon Forrester, County Council Member Paula Reimers and County Commissioner George Schrumpf.

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Meanwhile, the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce and the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation is sponsoring a "Wind Development 101" program.

The program is being billed as a community discussion about Wind Energy.

It will take place Wednesday, March 23, at 6:00 p.m., in the auditorium at Indian Springs Middle School.

The program will feature guest speakers who will discuss renewable energy and possible wind farm tax benefits.




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