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A new strategy for wind farm opponents

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Some Sulphur Springs residents say they do not believe New Castle or Henry County officials who have urged anti-wind protesters to “calm down,” who say “there is no cause for alarm” and who contend there are no active wind farm projects in the county at the present time. Hearing public officials talk about the low likelihood of a wind turbine company getting a tax abatement doesn’t make them feel much better, either.

With a reported 130 land leases or more in the county already signed with wind companies, they are still concerned – and that concern led to more discussion as well as an interesting new strategy Tuesday night at the Sulphur Springs Town Council meeting.

Judy Walker, one of the anti-wind protesters, spoke to the board about a new idea to at least limit the spread of wind turbines here.

As the council was passing a second reading of an ordinance prohibiting wind turbines within town boundaries, Walker presented another one used by other communities that would establish a “four-mile extraterritorial jurisdiction outside its corporate boundaries.” The ordinance cites a state statute under home rule that allows towns to do this.

Walker passed out copies of the statute, which talked about “the Town’s police power to regulate the use or possession of property that might endanger the public health, safety or welfare, pursuant to I.C. 36-8-2-4 and the Indiana Home Rule Law, I.C. 36-1-3.”

The suggested ordinance concludes with “No person or entity shall construct or operate a WECS in the Town, or within the Town’s four-mile extraterritorial jurisdiction.”

Her goal and hope is that all of Henry County’s small towns might pass the same ordinance. She’s already in the process of contacting many of the small towns to share the information.

“Indiana has a home rule that backs up this ordinance that I gave you on the four mile,” Walker said. “It does not have to be approved by Commissioners. This code allows you to adopt this four-mile ordinance.”

“What if every town passes this?” board member Kip Jones said.  

“That’s what we’re hoping,” Walker replied.

“If this would work, we’d be putting them out of business in this part of the county,” Sulphur Springs Town Council President William Dittlinger said. 

During the discussion, Walker said she knew of at least 130 land leases already signed between property owners and wind companies. With the new WECS (Wind Energy Conversion System) ordinance soon to take effect, she and others believe it’s just a matter of time before wind turbine companies begin planning anew to invade Henry County.

“All those leases are laying there, waiting,” Jim McShirley told the board. “You’re really fighting for the survival of this town. This is the theft of our future. We are surrounded... We could never do anything but die on the vine and become a tumbleweed town.”

“Sulphur Springs could be the jewel of the county,” McShirley continued. “I intend to help make it happen. But when I look at the leases signed, we’re surrounded.”

Walker said she is in the process of reaching out to Mt. Summit, Blountsville, Cadiz, Kennard, Lewisville, Mooreland, Shirley and Springport officials in hopes they will pass the same ordinance.

“With this, you do not have to have anyone else’s stamp of approval, you do not have to record the town plat, you just have to pass the ordinance,” Walker said.

Sulphur board members did unanimously pass second reading of an ordinance prohibiting wind turbines within town limits. 

Board members agreed there is concern that the low vibration of the turbines could create stress on the TransAmerica gas pipelines. It brought back memories of the Sulphur Springs explosion that happened 25 years ago.

“The three of us were all fireman when it blew. We know what it is. I thought it was in my backyard.” Dittlinger said.