Wind study committee formed

COLUMBIA CITY — As consulting firm Ground Rules, Inc. begins the study process of wind energy in preparation for the eventual drafting of a new Whitley County Wind Ordinance, it will have a nine-member panel to provide input.Dave Sewell, Whitley County’s Executive Director of the Building and Planning Department presented a nine-member steering committee to the county’s Board of Commissioners Monday.The committee has been called for from an outcry by residents who oppose the installation of 400-foot-plus windmills near their property.In November, the Whitley County Plan Commission considered the first incarnation of a wind ordinance, called the Whitley County Wind Ordinance.While some county residents had signed lease agreements with a wind energy company, Wind Capital Group, which installed tall towers in several areas to measure wind, others were opposed to the idea of a “wind farm” coming to the area.Those opponents, and some representing the opposing view, turned out in droves at plan commission meetings and were relentless. The first drafting of the ordinance died before the year was out.In subsequent meetings, the plan commission agreed to have an independent consulting firm study the issue from every side and further agreed to form a steering committee to provide input to the consultant.After much debate, it was agreed the committee should be divided into thirds — one third made up of residents who oppose the arrival of wind farms, one third made up of residents who think the facilities are good for the local economy, and one third made up of county government officials.The steering committee consists of Steve Sickafoose, Doug Reiff and Walt Trier, all in favor of wind farms; Stanley Crum, Joan Null and Mark Mynhier, opposed; and Brandon Forrester, Paula Reimers and George Schrumpf of the plan commission. Reimers also serves on the Whitley County Council and Schrumpf is a county commissioner. Forrester serves as the county’s engineer.