Moratorium on new wind farms extended

PAXTON — The Ford County Board on Monday night extended its moratorium on the permitting of any new wind farms indefinitely.

The 120-day moratorium that was approved in October was set to expire soon. At the insistence of board member Tim Nuss of rural Roberts, the ban will not be lifted until the board approves a revised ordinance regulating wind farms.

Included in the moratorium will be the permitting of solar farms, as well. Residents referenced rumors that a solar farm developer was interested in building in Ford County.

Dallas Glazik of the Ford County Soil & Water Conservation District reiterated to the board that he was willing to assist with revising the ordinance.  Glazik said he has expertise in sustainable-energy sources.

The county’s zoning enforcement officer, Matt Rock, said the zoning committee has already met several times to review the wind farm ordinance.

J.J. Stone, a project manager for Apex Clean Energy, which has proposed to build the Ford Ridge Wind Farm near Sibley, said his company is looking to apply for another special-use permit for the wind farm sometime this year. The company currently has a valid permit for a 120-megawatt wind farm, but Stone said the company is in the process of expanding the scope of the project and looking to apply for another permit as a result.

Initially slated to be 150 to 200 megawatts near Sibley, the wind farm now calls for an estimated 250 to 300 megawatts, Stone said.

“We hope the updated ordinance will still allow us to do business in the county,” Stone said. “Over 30 years, we will make a $500 million investment in the county. Over 30 years, landowners will see $60 million in payments and taxing districts will gain $60 million, as well.”

Ann Ihrke of rural Buckley, a longtime critic of wind farms who is running as a write-in candidate in District 2 on the Ford County Board, told the board it needs to be cautious as it revises its wind farm ordinance. Ihrke noted that the 1,000-foot setbacks between turbines and homes — under which the county now operates — is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit in Indiana.

Also Monday night, the board renewed annual law enforcement contracts with Kempton for $6,253 and Piper City for $25,000, the same rates as last year.

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