Two days after the approval of Montgomery County’s first comprehensive plan for development, county commissioners released a draft zoning ordinance – under threat of a lawsuit. The proposed ordinance includes strict regulations for wind turbines, which have been the source of a contentious debate in the county.
Indiana requires counties have a comprehensive plan before they can enact zoning. The comprehensive plan, passed Monday, lists wind turbines and wind energy conversion systems as an undesirable misuse of the land.
Commissioner John Frey says Akuo Energy, one of two companies planning to build a wind farm in the county, has announced plans to sue the county – which could hold up final passage of the ordinance if a court puts it under review.
Frey says Akuo argues the company has agreements allowing wind farm development. But Frey says those agreements, from 2013, need to be updated.
“If no action was taken in two years, once those agreements were signed, then they need to come back to the table and renegotiate those agreements,” Frey says. “And it’s been six years.”
The proposal includes extremely restrictive guidelines for turbines, limiting noise, vibrations and shadows on neighboring properties. It also limits the height to less than 325 feet, and only then with county approval.
Frey says the ordinance is in line with what citizens want.
“In the comprehensive plan, it did not say, ‘The will of the people is not to work with wind energy.’ It did not say, ‘Get along with wind energy,’” Frey says. “It said, ‘No wind energy.’”
The county Plan Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed zoning ordinance April 24.
Akuo Energy officials did not respond to requests for comment.