This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Mostly about wind farms (Updated)

For years I have found long metal rods on city streets. I had no idea of what they were until I asked my son and for some reason he knew. Have you ever seen these rods on the streets and do you know what thy are? (If no one gives a correct answer in the comments, I will eventually update the post with the answer.)
After the City Council meeting on Monday night, the Jasper County BZA and Planning Commission met. The most interesting bit from these meetings was from the Planning Commission meeting, which was updating the section of Unified Development Ordinance for wind farms. They took out some height restrictions because apparently they are obsolete and replaced them with language that says the turbines must meet FAA height regulations. They also changed some distances in the ordinance from specific numbers to distances based on the height of the turbines, so higher turbines must be further from other structures than shorter turbines. The changes make Jasper County's rules more like those of Benton and White Counties.

Being zoned for wind farms does not change the underlying zoning--it must be A1 or A2. The wind farm zoning is then put on top of that. What was most interesting about the discussion was that representatives of two wind farm companies attended the meeting and were happy to answer questions. They said that Jasper County has good wind and that the various adverse impacts are best treated with proper siting. The leases that they sign with farmers run for 25 years. About one to one and a half acres of farm land are taken out of production for each tower. There were concerns about drainage tiles and damage to roads, and these are covered in the leases and the permits needed to construct a wind farm. If a tower is demolished, the company will remove the pad to four feet below the surface. There are 400 to 500 cubic yards of concrete for each turbine.

Developing a wind farm is a lengthy process that takes years. One of the company representatives said that he has been working on a wind farm in North Dakota for eleven years and it is still not under construction. Other than the regulatory hurdles, the hardest part is getting enough leases signed. Small wind farms have problems marketing their power that larger wind farms do not have and the fixed costs of transmission lines are spread over fewer turbines. If wind farms come to Jasper County, they will not be built for several years.

The Planning Commission moved to send the changes to the Commissioners, who will have the item on their December agenda.

The other meeting was the BZA meeting. Taking up an hour of time was discussion of a sand-mining proposal on a property adjacent to Jasper-Pulaski Preserve. The gentleman making the request would like to dig two ponds and to do so wants to be able to sell the sand to contractors as they need it. DNR and Nature Conservancy have land to the north and east and have no problems with this proposal, but property owners to the west and south had concerns about what it would to to the water levels and whether it would attract geese that might injure crops. The BZA eventually tabled the item until their December 20th meeting (held on a Wednesday, not a Monday).

The other agenda item was for a set-back variance. A gentleman wanted to sell a house and found that because of mistakes in the past, the house had been built seven feet too close to the property line. For some reason the mortgage company of a potential buyer would not issue a mortgage because of the violation. The BZA granted the variance.

Update: The second commenter knew what they were, but did not explain the source for those who do not know that these bits of metal are street sweeper bristles. The brushes used on the City street sweepers have metal bristles that sometimes break off. If you do an Internet search for metal street sweeper bristles, you will find that the most commonly mentioned use of them is to make lock-picking tools.

Rensselaer recently bought a new street sweeper and I have found some plastic bristles recently. I asked about that and was told that one of the brushes on the new sweeper has plastic bristles, but the side brushes still have metal teeth.

And if you doubt my word, here is the question asked and answered in the Chicago Tribune.


Jim Earnest said...

It looks like rebar but I am not certain why it would be laying along a street. It is usually used to re-enforce concrete.

Anonymous said...

Depending on whom you ask those little metal doodads are either lock picking tools or an integral part of a street cleaner.