Gibson County Advisory Planning Commission looks into wind turbines, zoning laws

GIBSON COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT)- The Gibson County Advisory Planning Commission held a work session. County officials are looking into something they haven’t had to deal with before which are wind turbines.

An old debate is getting new life in Gibson County. The question: does the county need zoning laws. The committee tasked with finding that answer held its first meeting since a public hearing on the question. There is one large issue pushing the latest effort for zoning.

As a crowd watched and listened, different groups made their case on why Gibson County should have zoning rules. Of those: a local scientist tasked with explaining the risks of wind turbines in certain locations. Another; RWE. The turbine developer. But beyond this newest conversation zoning has been discussed numerous times in the past.

“This has been an ongoing issue over the years,” Steve Obter says.

“The concept of zoning has gotten so hot here in Gibson County because we don’t have it. So without zoning anything can be built anywhere,” Kent Scheller explains.

With the news of the possibility of the towering windmills, some Gibson County residents are taking extra steps.

“Here we have the possibility of wind turbines coming into Gibson County but they’re proposing to place them in a place that will compromise severely the effectiveness and accuracy of our Doppler weather early warning system,” Scheller says.

The doppler was just one of the topics physics professor Kent Scheller explained during his presentation. Referencing the tornado in Taylorville, Illinois and explaining how turbines affected the weather data there. Also touching on the possibility of a malfunction resulting in a broken piece flying off.

“It’s going to fly a great distance in fact, some of the distances we’ve researched are upwards of a half a mile up to a mile in distance,” Scheller explains.

RWE, the company that plans to build the windmills says it just wants a fair chance at the project.

“A lot of the requirements that can safeguard the county can come through zoning. As a company, we’re not opposed to zoning but we want a fair process through the involvement of zoning coming to the county,” Karsen Rumpf says.

As for the area planning commission members, they know what’s ahead for them.

“This is just the start of a long process for us,” Obert says.

This was one of several proposed meetings for the Gibson County Advisory Planning Commission to hear from different people and county resources.

One presentation shown during the meeting by Kent Scheller is attached.

RWE FAQ Study Links

Independent Expert Presentations

Vestas Safety Guidance Letter

RWE Gibson APC Presentation

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(This story was originally published on January 28, 2020)

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