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The proposed ordinance that would bring zoning to the unincorporated parts of Montgomery County is now in the hands of the board of commissioners with a favorable recommendation from the plan commission.
The county’s first zoning regulations will go into effect if commissioners adopt the ordinance at their meeting next month.
Nearly 80 people filled the Crawfordsville City Council chambers for a public hearing Wednesday as the plan commission gave the proposal a second look after giving no recommendation a month ago. County commissioners can only take action on an initial zoning ordinance proposal if they receive a favorable recommendation of some kind.
The plan commission voted 5-3 in favor of the proposed ordinance. Tammy Meyers, Lynn Ringis and Terry Hockersmith voted no. Tom Cummins was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.
“In the time since we all last saw each other, I’ve continued to hear from more members of the public,” Meyers said during a discussion amongst the commission after 21 people spoke either for or against the ordinance during public comments that lasted more than an hour.
“I’ve heard from people who want wind, who don’t want wind. Who want zoning and who don’t want zoning,” Meyers said. “And until tonight, I haven’t had one person speak with very much favor for passing this particular ordinance as it’s written. In trying to meet the will of the people, this seems rushed, and incomplete, and like it’s just not ready yet.”
Meyers had similar feelings as many of those who chose to speak during the hearing, and with nearly every message based around industrial wind farm development.
“I was disappointed to see all the rules and regulations against wind and nothing else,” Teresa Buckles of Wingate said. “I didn’t see anything in here addressing industrial animal operations. There’s nothing in here about landfills. Don’t just pick on wind.”
John Frey, the plan commission president, said during a discussion between commission members that chapters will later be added to address confined animal feeding operations along with chapters regarding residential development standards and economic development zoning.
Things like landfills, waste transfer stations and meteorological testing towers more than 120 feet tall are listed as special exceptions in the ordinance. Specific regulations for special exceptions are outlined in its own section, which says they “require a greater degree of scrutiny and review of site characteristics and impacts to determine their suitability in a given location.”
Frey explained that wind turbines and wind energy conversion systems are addressed in its own chapter apart from special exceptions because of potential lawsuit from Akuo Energy, who threatened the county with litigation in March.
There’s some who have been outspoken opponents of both wind farm development and the implementation of county-wide zoning who now are choosing one to stop the other.
“I’m just sick of what’s going on in this county. I want this over with and I want this ugliness to go away,” said Miriah Mershon, who has fought wind farm development because of concerns it would affect her son, who suffers from epilepsy.
“John, you said that I’ve said lots of bad things about you,” she continued, addressing Frey. “And I told you if you did something I approved of then I would be on your side. I’d rather chew my arm off than agree with you tonight, but I do request that we send a favorable recommendation for this zoning ordinance. If this is what it takes to protect my son, then this is the side I have to be on.”
County commissioners meet June 10, at which time they can adopt, reject or amend the proposal. They can also table it for further consideration. If it’s rejected or amended, the proposed ordinance would return to the plan commission for consideration with a written statement of their reasons.