West Lafayette will not adopt a ban on large wind turbines going into effect in Tippecanoe County. The city council voted against the ordinance this week.
The ordinance prevents turbines over 140 feet in the county, and county commissioners say it’s to keep the land free for economic development. They have repeatedly said the ban isn’t a statement against renewable energy or environmentally-friendly technology.
But City Council President Peter Bunder disagrees.
“It’s also about environmental energy. And it’s - it’d be difficult to separate those,” Bunder says.
Even without the ordinance, turbines taller than the limit likely wouldn’t be built in West Lafayette because of factors like population and building density. But Bunder says an ordinance against a renewable energy source is not the right call for the city, especially because it’s home to Purdue University.
Students from local high schools also spoke against the ban at the meeting, and Bunder says that played a part in the decision.
“What it does, we think, beyond saying, ‘We think this is a bad look for Purdue,’ is to say to the young people in the community, ‘Look. We know that you are interested in this issue, and to the extent that we can support you, we are going to do that,’” he says.
Bunder says the vote isn’t meant to call out the commissioners; it’s just to show that the city council doesn’t think a total ban is the right decision.
Bunder says he’d prefer commissioners come up with a different response to the wind farm debate that allows for more compromise in areas that might be interested in wind energy.