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

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Three meetings


Monday evening featured three public meetings. First up was the Rensselaer City Council meeting. Stephen Eastridge began with a report on what the Jasper County Economic Development Organization (JCEDO) was doing. In 2018 he was busy building relationships regionally and in 2019 he hopes to focus on relationships within the County. He said that his efforts were aimed more at helping businesses within the County grow than on attracting new businesses. Councilman Odle agreed that that focus made a lot of sense. The City of Rensselaer supports financially JCEDO and the Council approved a semi-annual contribution of $5000.

The Council clarified its action at the last meeting regarding a request by Good Oil for support in attaching to the City's sewer system. The City is willing to take sewage from businesses on the west side of the I-65/SR 114 interchange and will help with the permitting for boring under I-65. The reason that Good Oil wants help in the permitting is that the state does not charge municipalities for obtaining permits.

Consideration of quotes for a new truck for the gas department was delayed to the next meeting so additional quotes can be obtained. Jacob Ahler, who is the City's appointment to the Rensselaer Central School Board, is resigning and there is a need to fill the several months remaining on his term. Anyone interested should contact the Mayor. The reason Ahler is resigning is that he is now the legal counsel for the Jasper County Council, which meets at the same time that the School Board meets (which is why this blog only rarely covers what is happening  at School Board meetings.).

It appears that most of the City and County will be shut down on Wednesday and Thursday. The City announced early on Monday that the trash and recycling pickup for Wednesday will be postponed until Thursday and it is likely that it will be further postponed until Friday. The Mayor will decide if City Hall shuts down on Wednesday and Thursday. The County Commissioners have already decided that Jasper County government will be shut down on Wednesday and Thursday. 

The Fire Department has responded to eleven calls from Friday through Monday evening. If you have any water lines that are in danger of freezing, leave a little water running for the next couple of days.

After the meeting I asked a City official about ACD, the company that I saw stringing fiber cable on City utility poles. They are apparently doing the work as a contractor for another, unnamed company and it may be part of a 5-G network. 

The Jasper County BZA and Plan Commission meetings on Monday evening were moved to the third floor of the Court House because of the large crowd. The BZA meeting was first and was short. The Board elected new officers: Scott Walstra as chair and Lance Strange as Vice Chair. Its only agenda item was a variance for a setback. A person wanted to remove an existing structure and replace it with a structure with a somewhat larger footprint. That new structure apparently encroaches on the set back, which is why the variance was needed. It was approved.

The Plan Commission had two new members, David Webb replacing Sandra Putt and Steve Jordan replacing Gerritt DeVries. The officers for 2019 are Kent Korniak as President, Brian Overstreet as Vice President, and James Martin as Secretary. 

The first item on the agenda was the item that brought the crowd, the revised wind farm ordinance that the Commissioners had passed at their January 6 meeting. The attorney for the Commission told members that they could not amend and had only three options. They could  approve what the Commissioners had sent, and if they did, the ordinance would take effect immediately. They could disapprove it, in which case the ordinance would return to the Commissioners, who would then have the option of approving it. If the Commissioners did nothing, the draft that the Plan Commission had approved in November would take effect. Or they could do nothing at all, in which case the draft from the Commissioners would take effect after 45 days.  (I have in past blog posts been mistaken in describing the options available to the Commissioners and the Plan Commission as an ordinance moves from one body to the next. However, the discussion on the Plan Commission revealed that I am not the only one who has had trouble understanding the process.)

There was some discussion. Several members thought that the Commissioners had made some good changes but did not like other things that they had changed, especially the setbacks. The idea that there should be further negotiations was voiced by more than one member. After further discussion, Vince Ubano moved to disapprove the ordinance. His motion passed 6 to 2. 

The second item was an ordinance for solar energy systems. It had been introduced at the previous Plan Commission meeting and tabled so changes could be considered. The new draft had changes for acreage, noise, conservation districts, and fees. The ordinance drew heavily from an similar ordinance from Shelby County. There were concerns that a solar park would limit neighboring property owners but it was clarified that the setbacks were not reciprocal. After some discussion, the item was sent back to committee for further changes and will be brought back for the February 25 meeting.

I do not have any pictures that capture the cold that we are experiencing, but here are two that show the work being done at the Weston Cemetery office building. The first was taken on the 22nd and the second on Monday, the 28th.


I see from Facebook that Remington's Water Tower Days, scheduled for June 8, has been canceled. The reason given was that there were not enough volunteers.

Hunker down and get ready for some of the coldest weather that Rensselaer has ever experienced. Wednesday's forecast high is below zero.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

End of a cold week

On Friday most area schools were closed because of the extremely cold temperatures. The forecast for next week is for even colder temperatures, with brutally cold temperatures for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It will be interesting to how many school delays and closings there will be next week.

The rain on Wednesday helped clear the roads so that City streets were mostly clear on Thursday. However, we are now getting more snow over the next few days so the roads will again be icy next week. If you must get out, drive carefully.

In the December 12 City Council meeting the Council approved a pole attachment agreement that came from interest by unnamed companies that wanted to attach lines to the City's utility poles. Last week I noticed a company doing that. The company is Advanced Communication and Data or ACD. It is a Michigan company. I do not know the rest of the story but I suspect that there is an interesting story here.
The hotel at Fair Oaks Farms opened a couple days ago. I suspect they want a quiet opening to work out any bugs and get staff trained.

Work at Autumn Trace has enclosed the building so there will not be much change until they finish the roof and give the exterior walls their final layer. The company put some pictures shot from a drone on the Internet this past week so I will link to one of theirs rather than post one of mine.

Rensselaer's Habitat for Humanity is no more. It is now affiliated with the Fuller Center for Housing. Their website explains: "This organization no longer has any affiliation with Habitat for Humanity or their partners. Both Habitat and Fuller Center were founded by Millard Fuller and have many goals in common and the same final goal, but are separate organizations. Our affiliate was started in 1994 under Habitat, and changed to a Fuller Center covenant partner in December 2018." (Their Facebook page is here.)

The first meeting of the task force concerned with the consequences of the closing of NIPSCO's Wheatfield generating station met in DeMotte on Wednesday evening. The Rensselaer Republican has a report of what happened at the meeting that is published in their Saturday edition.

The diocesan paper of Lafayette had an article about an after-school violin class at St. Augustine's School. You can read it here.  The class got some start-up money from the Jasper-Newton Foundation.

Fowler is featured in a BP ad that has been airing on television. I have not seen it there but it is on line here.

The former Country Bumpkin/Thee Dragonfly is busy moving from Kellner to Washington Street next to the bakery.
That is all I have for this week.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Odds and ends on a snowy Saturday

The weekend snow has been less than some of the forecast predictions but still has shut down many activities. The Rensselaer Library closed early and did not have their scheduled Train Day. The Library does have the 2018 tax forms available. The forms are different this year reflecting the tax changes made in 2017. The old 1040EZ and 1040A gone and everyone files a simplified 1040.

Postage rates are rising on January 27. The cost of a letter will rise from 50¢ to 55¢. You have only a few days to stock up on Forever stamps.

Fair Oaks Farm will open its new hotel in a few days. I have not seen an announcement of when they will open but the Fairfield website would accept reservations for February 1. 

Talbert Manufacturing was awarded a $320 million contract over the next five years to build semitrailers for the U.S. Department of Defense.

On Friday morning workers at Autumn Trace seemed to be installing the last few trusses. They had already installed many of the windows.
Also on Friday the Jasper County Finance Committee met. I had never been to one of these meetings so I went to see what they did. The Committee consists of the Commissioners and the County Treasurer and it must meet annually to approve the County's investment policy. Usually that meeting is very short and is the only time it meets during the year.

The Committee began by approving the minutes for both the 2018 and 2017 meetings. The County has quite a bit of money sitting in various accounts and the Treasurer has been investing that money in bank CDs. I recall at either a Commissioners or Council meeting a few years ago where there was a  discussion of what kinds of investment the State allow counties to make, and the State is quite restrictive in what it allows. Interest rates have risen in the past two years as the economy has expanded and the Federal Reserve has tightened monetary policy. The most recent investment that the Treasurer made was at 2.85%. The total amount of interest income that the County receives is starting to approach a million dollars a year.

The Treasurer invests so that each month a CD matures. Breaking the total investment in parts that are frequently maturing reduces or eliminates early withdrawal penalties if funds are suddenly or not so suddenly needed, which can happen when there are big expenditures such as the recent energy upgrades at the Court House. At Friday's meeting a representative from the Surveyor's office requested that some of their maintenance fund be invested so that the interest would go to the GDIF account. (I do not know what the GDIF account is but it funds some of the minor repairs that are done to ditches.) Currently the Surveyor's funds are invested as part of total monies and the interest goes to the County General Fund. The Board approved the request as part of the investment policy for 2019.

We are going to have a few days of real winter next week. More than the cold, I dislike the short days of winter. However, the days are getting longer by about a minute and forty seconds each day, and that increase per day is getting larger. I found a neat website that allows one to track the length of day for any location for the entire year. Check it out here. It shows that in one month there will be an extra hour and ten minutes of daylight.
 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

County Council 1-15-19

The first order of business for the Jasper County Council on Tuesday evening was election of officers. The Council stayed with Rein Bontreger as President and Andrew Andree as Vice President.

Stephen Eastridge from Jasper County Economic Development Organization addressed the Council about three items. He discussed the community task force that he has assembled to prepare for the scheduled closure of NIPSCO's Wheatfield plant. Eleven people have agreed to serve and he is close to getting a twelfth and final member. There will be six monthly meetings, with the first in DeMotte. The second will probably also be in DeMotte and he would like to schedule the third in Remington.

Next he suggested to Council Members that the County should have a tax abatement policy that encourages some kinds of investment over other kinds. He proposed a scorecard that gives points for things that the County desires. This would take some of the subjectivity out of the abatement process and would give companies more certainty when considering investment in the County. For example, right now employment is tight and existing companies are having a hard time filling positions. So attracting a company with a lot of jobs might not be as desirable as it might be at other times. Instead the County might prefer companies that have higher wages and make more investment. A scorecard could reflect these or other preferences.

Finally, he said at the next Commissioners meeting he will be presenting a proposal to make the County a broadband ready community. This taps into something that the State is promoting. Two neighboring counties, Benton and Newton, are working on it. A solid infrastructure supporting telecommunications and Internet access is important for attracting new development.

Next was a discussion of pay and job descriptions for deputy coroners. There are eleven and all are part-time, paid based on work done.

The Council expressed appreciation for the work done by three jail inmates in cleaning the attic and basement of the Court House. The recent energy upgrades to the Court House are almost finished. There was only one bid received for remodeling the former PNC building and there needs to be at least two. The work will be rebid. With that, the meeting was adjourned.

The Rensselaer Library has an unusual exhibit for the next few days, a replica of the coffin of Abraham Lincoln. It is sponsored by the DAR, Jackson Funeral Chapels, and the Library and will only be here until January 21. On Thursday evening at 6:00 pm the Library will host a program by Lincoln presenter Danny Russel.
The Fendig Gallery's first exhibit of the year is the annual Primary School Art Show.
Among the schools represented are Rensselaer Primary, St. Augustine, South Newton, Lake Village, Demotte Christian, and DeMotte Primary.
The pictures are from Kindergarten, first, and second graders. It must be hard for the teachers to select what items to display. As the exhibits continue through the rest of the grades, one can see just how much ability increases through the years.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

City Council meeting 1-14-2019

The first 2019 meeting of the Rensselaer City Council started late because the Board of Public Works meeting, which meets half an hour before the Council meeting once a month, went long. I had looked at the agenda and did not see anything that looked interesting, so skipped it. What I did not realize was that the Change Order item was about the new well on Sparling Avenue. The pump that had been installed was not quite right for the well and the suspicion was that it would fail prematurely. It will be replaced at no cost to the City with a submersible pump. Until the work is completed satisfactorily a payment of about $250,000 will be withheld.

First on the agenda of the City Council were two items from the Utility Office. The first changed the disconnect policy. The details were not explained but it will give certain customers more time to pay before they are disconnected for non-payment. It passed. The second was a proposal to establish a three-tiered meter deposit, with no deposit for those with good credit, the current deposit for those with mediocre credit, and a higher rate for those with bad credit. The City has been working with a company that generates or provides the credit information. As part of the ordinance, after twelve months in which there are no problems with payments, the deposit would be applied to the utility bill. Councilman Watson did not like the higher rates for those with a sketchy credit history because he said that it makes life harder for people who are already having a hard time with finances but he did like the part that gave back the deposit by applying it to the customer's bill. After some discussion, a committee of Councilmen Watson and Odle was formed to examine the ordinance and make a recommendation to a future Council meeting.

The gas tracker for January will be a fifteen cent increase per hundred cubic feet. The gas department was given permission to seek quotes for a new service truck to replace a 2003 truck used for welding that is starting to have problems. The Council also approved the purchase of nine radios for about $27,000 for the Fire Department.

Next there was a discussion of an inquiry from Good Oil Company, owner of the gas station on the west side of the SR 114/I-65 interchange. They wanted to know if the City would be open to allowing the businesses to connect to the City sewer on the east side of the interchange. They do not want to spend money developing plans if the City will not allow a connection. The Council voted that they are open to the idea. The discussion suggested that any connection will need to be paid for and constructed by the businesses on the west. The City would be willing to help obtain needed permits. George Cover said that it is in the interest of the City to help the businesses there because they provide jobs for City residents. The Council also approved granting the Mayor authority to hire an engineering firm to review any plans that Good Oil develops.

The Mayor and Council made appointments to various boards and commissions. Most were re-appointments. One opening that remains is a seat on the Rensselaer Board of Zoning Appeals where a current member has moved outside of City limits and thus is no longer eligible to serve on the Board. There will also be an opening in June for the Rensselaer Central School Board.

INDOT, which owns a square block of land in northeast Rensselaer where it once had its operations, has offered the land to the City for $1.00. However, they are not willing to accept any future liability for environmental contamination problems from any chemicals that might be on the site. The Council decided to decline the offer because of the potential liability and the lack of any real need for the property.

(I noted back in October another lot for sale that had environmental issues. It sold and the title was transferred in November. Like the INDOT property, it cannot be used for residential purposes and it has other restrictions on use due to its past use.)

The Mayor noted that the Governor has no Amtrak subsidy in his budget proposal and without the subsidy the Hoosier State will not run on the four days of a week that it currently runs. There was a brief discussion of a past proposal by a company to provide recording services for Council meetings. The Council thought the price ($17,000 for the basic service) was too high but agreed a committee (Barton & Cover) should consider options.

A recent hire by the Police Department will graduate from the police academy this week and join the force on Sunday. There is another opening at the Department that will have the hiring process starting soon.

The meeting adjourned a bit after 7:00.

Rensselaer woke up on Monday morning to heavy fog and very cold temperatures. The fog froze on tree branches. Because there was virtually no wind, it created a thick layer of ice crystals, mostly on only one side of the branch or twig.
Even small stems of flowers were thickly coated.
 It was not just the vegetation that was iced, but also fences and signs.
 Below is a close-up of the ice crystals on a sign that shows the feathery texture of the frost.
A few hours after sunrise it was all gone.

Checking the Internet, I learned that there is a difference between rime frost and hoar frost, but I cannot tell which this frost was.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Snow!

Some of the weather forecasts I saw for this weekend had Rensselaer on the northern edge of a big snow storm. The radar today, however, showed that the snow had gone north of the forecast and we were in the middle, not the edge, of the area of snow. It has been snowing all day. The snow seems a bit dry for snowmen, but my neighbors managed a small one.
 Below is the view of Lincoln Avenue from the entrance of the Cemetery. The City has not plowed this street yet. The snow crew may be waiting for the snow to stop before they begin plowing.
 I keep watching the rapid changes at Autumn Trace behind Walmart. On Tuesday there were no trusses on the eastern half of the building. The view is from the parking lot of the Royal Oak Restaurant.
 On Friday morning the crew was finishing the trusses on the south east corner.
 On Saturday morning the trusses on this part were finished. There is still a pile of trusses and I think they are for the hallways between the four corner units.

There was not a lot of traffic Saturday morning. I think most people were avoiding unnecessary trips.

On Friday Ryan Musch of Embers shared a Youtube video on Facebook. It is a music video shot in Rensselaer, something that is unusual and worth noting. You should be able to identify some of the locations. You may also be able to identify one of the young people in the video.

If you go to Youtube to watch the video, you can find background information on how it was made and the identify of the local person in the video.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Park news

2019 should be an exciting year for Rensselaer parks with many changes, new facilities, and new programs.

The Park Board and Corporation met on Monday evening. The Board did not have a quorum so could take not actions, but the Corporation did. (For an explanation of the two, see here.)

The president of the Board announced that one corporation board member was stepping down so there is an opening for a new member. The members present agreed that they wanted to spread word of the opening so anyone who was interested could apply.

There was some discussion of soccer and then attention turned to the status of improvements being funded by the Parks for People monies. The dog park is almost finished and would be if November had not been so cold. There was concern about whether the grass for the soccer fields at the Monnett site will be ready for games in August. Weather has delayed work on other improvements at the Staddon-Monnett park: a walking trail, entry gates, and new basketball courts. They were the basis for the $50,000 state grant and have to be done in the first round of improvements. The three new ball fields for Brookside are still in the planning stages. The original plan was for two bigger and one smaller field. Three bigger fields would make the facility much more attractive to tournaments that pay money for using facilities and so plans are being re-worked. Apparently the company doing the planning is slow. All the ball fields need to be done at the same time and the cost of doing them and upgrading the rest room nearby will be about the same as the cash collected so far by the campaign. (Many pledges are being paid over three or five years.)

There are a number of new or special events that are on the drawing boards for this year. There may be a vegetable garden for children, in part to help them learn that food does not originate at the grocery store. The LaRue Pool will celebrate its 70th birthday this June and a pool party or two is being planned. Prairie Arts Council may be abandoning its Art Camp and the Park may take it over. There is the possibility of a family camp-out night in June that will be fun it the weather is decent. If the walking trail at Monnett is ready by June, it may see its grand opening with National Trails Day. Most or all of last year's programs will be continued this year.

The next meeting will be on February 4.

The Jasper County Drainage Board also met on Monday. There was a public hearing about vacating some easement along a ditch. A person who owned a lot in a subdivision discovered that the lot was not buildable because the adjacent ditch had a 75 foot easement, taking up a large part of his lot. His request was denied because the Commissioners said that several years ago they had adopted the policy of denying all requests that would reduce easements.  There then followed discussion of the Kankakee River and of the Kankakee River Basin Commission, most of which I did not understand because I do not know the people or the background of the issues discussed.

In other news, SJC will host a memorial service for the late Fr. Kostka, C.PP.S. in the gymnasium on Saturday at 1:00. Fr. Kostka recently died at the ripe old age of 104.

I noticed over the weekend that SJC has removed many dead trees along US 231 and in the grove east of the Science Building. The emerald ash borer hit the campus trees hard.

Workers have been busy working on the new Autumn Trace building. About half of the roofing trusses were up as of Tuesday.
Winter weather has returned. After some unseasonably warm day, we have more typical January weather and even some snow flurries.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

More wind

The Jasper County Commissioners met on Monday with a short agenda and a huge audience. The meeting could not be moved to a court room because the courts were in session.

First on the agenda was a brief report from Stephen Eastridge, Director of the Jasper County Economic Development Organization (JCEDO). He announced that there would be a series of meetings of the task force to prepare the County for the 2023 closing of the Schahfer Plant. The first will be on Jan 23 at 7:00 pm at the Fase Center east of DeMotte. The speaker will be a representative of NIPSCO who will explain what and why the company is doing what it is doing. Meetings on Feb 25 and March 18 will follow. They are open to the public and I suspect the reason that the first and probably the others will be at the Fase Center is that the northern part of the County will bear the brunt of the impact of closing. He also announced that the president of the Tourism Board had resigned from the Board and the Commissioners approved a replacement for her.

They approved Rensselaer, Remington, and DeMotte newspapers for legal announcements and signed off on a request from Wheatfield Township for an extension on its fire station bond from OCRA. Sheriff Williamson's request to fill a vacancy in the jail caused by a resignation was approved. The Commissioners also approved the transfer of a truck from the Sheriff to the Surveyor’s Department.

Then the main event began, discussion of the wind farm ordinance. Mr Culp said that the discussion would be confined to two hours, till 10:45. He began by reviewing the history of the ordinance. The first one was passed in 2008. In December of 2017 it was updated. In November of 2018, after several meetings, the Plan Commission approved a revised ordinance and sent it to the Commissioners for their approval. The Commissioners then had 90 days to act and if they did not act, the Plan Commission version would take effect. If they make changes, the Plan Commission has 45 days to act. No further changes can then be made. The Plan Commission can only vote yes or no on what the Commissioners send back. If they vote yes, the ordinance takes effect. If they vote no, the Commissioners can accept the version that the Plan Commission sent to them. If they do not accept that version, the old ordinance remains in effect and the whole process must begin again. (This is how I understand the process, though I may be mistaken.)

Mr Culp began by saying that the Plan Commission had said in their first December meeting that they wanted to allow wind turbines in the County but the setbacks in their draft would make them impossible. He then went through the changes that they had made. They set a height limit, which was 575 feet. The setback to any non-participating residence was a third of a mile, but that could be waived by the homeowner. They expanded the no-turbine zone around the Jasper-Pulaski Reserve and because of the dense housing in the northern part of the County, they drew a line at Division Road and made the northern half of the County a no-turbine zone. (30% of the County’s population is in Keener Township.) They also drew a circle with a six mile radius around the Jasper County Airport and declared that area off-limits to turbines. As a result, the proposed ordinance bans turbines in Keener, Wheatfield, Kankakee, Walker, Union, Newton Townships as well as most of Marion, Barkley and Gillam Townships and a little of Jordan Township. They are allowed in the southern parts of Barkley and Gillam Townships as well as in Milroy, most of Jordan, and Carpenter Townships. The Rensselaer City Council had passed an ordinance banning them in the two mile exclusion zone around Rensselaer but that whole ares is within the six-mile circle around the airport. The map below shows the results.
On the map the smaller circles are 1/3 mile circles around buildings based on data from 2005.

The turbine owner must maintain all drains and tiles within 1.5 times the tip height of the turbine for the life of the project.

At this point the discussion was stopped because the agenda said it was time to open bids for a variety of things. Bids were received for tires, crushed stone, sand, trucking, and machine rental. All bids were accepted. The meeting then took a ten minute break before more bids were opened, these for road surfacing materials. Again, all bids were accepted.

The floor was then open for public comments and there were many. There were questions about safety and safety zones, arguments that small landowners should be compensated for tolerating nearby towers and that larger setbacks would accomplish this, worries about fire that would spread to fields ready for harvest. Someone representing Everglades of the North said that the County should embrace wind energy because it was cleaner energy than coal, with a later speaker arguing that the carbon footprint of the turbines was huge. Another speaker worried about the possibilities of ground water contamination if the developer needed to drive piles due to soft soil. A citizen asked if the Commissioners were getting kickbacks from the wind farm developers. A speaker said that the cranes were spreading southward and now were often in fields south of Division Road. Someone said that we should consider pipelines and transmission lines in siting towers. Several people argued that because most people were against turbines, they should simply be banned, a statement that was finally contested near the end of the meeting, when the Commissioners said that those in attendance were not representative of the entire County and that there will be a lot more angry people if they do nothing and taxes rise as a result. There were more concerns about safety and how the manuals for the turbines defined the safety zone.

A prominent farmer from southern Jasper County said that he represented owners of 15,000 acres who wanted wind turbines if EDP was the developer. He said that they did not want their property rights taken away by the ordinance. Later in the meeting Commissioner Maxwell said that the current interest of a developer was in the south east part of the County, south of 1200S and west of I-65. If a wind farm is built in Jasper County in the next few years, it will be here. The acreage has not yet been signed up and Remington can restrict part of that area by regulating its two-mile exclusion zone. The representative from EDP was asked about possible development and said that the earliest possible start date would be 2021.

Someone asked why the Commissioners did not just accept the draft that the Plan Commission had passed unanimously. The response was that the Plan Commission was advisory and that the setbacks in the draft, if applied to the recent project in Benton County, would have eliminated 60 of the 61 towers. Someone asked about the RES meteorological tower that was supposed to be removed by the first of the year. Mary Scheurich said that in a phone call last week someone from RES said that the tower would be removed this week. Mr Culp said that landowners have more control over the wind farms than they realize. At present RES has not signed up enough land for their proposed project. I have heard that Pulaski County banned turbines, in which case their plans for Jasper County may not be viable. There was no one from RES at the meeting and their efforts in the County seem to have stopped.

There were two representatives from wind farm developers in the audience and they were asked to respond to some of the questions and concerns. The depth of the pad is ten feet. If there is soft soil, piles or piers may go below that, but this is an extra expense so the developers try to site where only the ten-foot-deep pad is needed. The safety manuals are proprietary but do not have specific safety setbacks. The other representative later said that he could probably get a manual for the Commissioners. Pipelines have their own easements and the pipeline companies defend them. A wind turbine developer needs to negotiate with the pipeline company if they are in the area of the wind farm. Typically the wind farm developer has at least four agreements with a County: an economic development agreement, a road-use agreement, a drainage crossing agreement, and a decommissioning agreement. Drain tiles are a big problem for wind farm owners because anything that goes wrong is usually blamed on the wind farm, so they are used to fixing the drains near turbines whether or not they caused the problem.

A wind farm has its own LLC so the agreements it makes stay in effect if ownership changes. The decommissioning agreement requires a bond or escrow account so even if the LLC goes bankrupt, there will be monies for removing towers. One of the wind farm representatives said the current cost of removing a wind farm was about two million dollars. The reason the amount is so small is that the turbines have considerable scrap value, which offsets some of the total cost. There were questions about tax abatements, which is a concern of the County Council, not the Commissioners. Apparently the wind farms usually get a tax abatement but then give much or all of that money back to the county in the economic development agreement. The advantage for the county seem to be that they have fewer restrictions on how they can use that money than they would have if it came via taxes. If the issue comes before the County Council in the next few years, I may learn more.

Before any construction on a wind farm can begin, approval is needed from six county bodies: Commissioners, Drainage Board, Plan Commission, BZA, Airport Authority, and County Council.

The Commissioners then discussed among themselves what additional changes they wanted to make and their discussion was drowned out by audience noise. Regaining the audience's attention, they announced that they had reduced the decibels allowed at a residence from 50 to 45 and made a couple of other changes and then voted to approve the ordinance. It now goes back to the Plan Commission. The meeting adjourned a few minutes before noon.