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

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Controversial farms

The Carnegie Players presented a well-acted version of Neil Simon's comedy Barefoot in the Park over the weekend. This is their 25th season. The quality of performances in the past few years is much better than those in their early years--they have grown. Their next production will be the musical Annie Get Your Gun, scheduled for July 27, August 2, 3, & 4.  The Carnegie Players did that musical as their second-ever production. I am sure the 2018 production will be much better than their first one.

I tried to take some pictures but they did not turn out well. Go here for a good picture of the cast and director on Facebook.

The river continues to recede and this will be my last river-level picture until something interesting happens to the level.
At the various meetings I attended on Monday I heard that there is still serious flooding along the Kankakee. Below is a video that the Sheriff's Department put on Facebook.

Alhough flooding along the Kankakee was serious, the town of DeMotte was mostly dry. The cleaning of ditches and the addition of retention ponds has had an effect. Of course the water had to go somewhere, so what was good for DeMotte may have been bad for those along the river.

The Commissioners meeting on Monday morning was unusually long.  The first item on the agenda, a rezone for a pig farm, took about an hour and 45 minutes. This was the subject of a Planning Commission meeting in January where the Commission on a divided vote recommended to the Commissioners that the zoning be changed from A1 (general agriculture) to A3 (intensive agriculture). The matter had not been taken up at the February meeting because that meeting was rescheduled. The presentation was a shortened version of the presentation at the Planning Commission with a few minor changes. One change was that the people proposing the pig farm say they will now filter both the air coming in (for biosecurity) and the air going out (to reduce odor). There were many public comments covering a variety of topics including odor, justice, and filing requirements. The concerns that the Commissioners were most receptive to were those about water.

Water wells in Jasper County often have problems with oil (see Asphaltum) and sulphur. The pools of good water can be limited and too much pumping can change the quality of water in a well. Those promoting the farm argue that they will not be using nearly as much water as a typical CFO but they had not had a detailed water report done for them. The Commissioners wanted such a report and passed the rezone subject to having a hydrology report done by the April 2 meeting.

The people wanting to build this hog farm had originally intended to build it in Newton County. However, when they applied for a special exception at the Newton County BZA meeting on August 22, 2017, they were turned down by a vote of 4 to 1. As in Jasper County, the people living close to the proposed site objected and there were enough people who attended the meeting that it was moved from the Government Center to North Newton High School. I wanted to link to the minutes of the meeting but the Newton County website has virtually no minutes of their county meetings. In ten years or so it should be clear which county made a mistake, Newton by rejecting it or Jasper by accepting it.

Newton County is headed for another fight over a CFO. A company has purchased about 2000 acres on the northern boarder of the Nature Conservancy property and wants to build a dairy. Opponents are arguing that it might pollute ground water. See here for more.

The next big controversy in Jasper County may be about wind farms. A company is seriously interested in building a wind farm in east-central Jasper and western Pulaski Counties and is approaching landowners about leasing land. If they cannot find enough land, the project will stop. If they do find enough land, then the permitting process will begin. I noticed the sign below at the intersection of Grace and College.

There was a wind farm item on the agenda for the Commissioners meeting. EDP Renewables will be building the Meadow Lake 6 wind farm in Benton County and would like to use a stretch of Jasper County Road to install one of the turbines. They had brought this item to the Commissioners in November and I think they expected to have an agreement reached. They promised to fix any damage done to the road. But in examining the details of the contract, the Commissioners had questions and eventually said that what they wanted was for the company not just to repair the road, but to pave it when they were finished. I suspect the fact that all of the benefits of the wind farm will go to Benton county--increased property tax revenues in addition to increasing the income of the land owners--may have made the Commissioners take a harder line than they would have if the County were getting benefits from the project.

There were several members in the audience who seemed to be quite opposed to wind farms. What I find interesting about the controversy about wind farms is that it seems to pit environmentalist against environmentalist. A major push for wind farms has been from those who want to reduce use of fossil fuels over concerns of global warming. However, much of the opposition also seems to be motivated by environmental concerns. The website mentioned on the sign is an example.

I will try to report on other aspects of the various meetings later this week.

Finally, another sign that spring is near: the turkey vultures are back.

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