Taylor County Courthouse

(Bedford) -- "An interesting meeting"--that's how one Taylor County official described the first of two public hearings on a proposed wind turbine ordinance.

Feedback pro and con on the proposed ordinance was aired during the hearing at the county courthouse's courtroom Monday morning. Taylor County Supervisors Chair Charles Ambrose tells KMA News the proposed ordinance sets "straightforward" regulations regarding the construction and operation of turbines in the county.

"It deals with such things as setbacks, separation distances from lakes and churches, and public facilities," said Ambrose. "It also deals with terminology concerning the wind turbines, and the regulations, and the permitting process for a company to move forward with the project."

Ambrose says the supervisors began exploring the ordinance after Invenergy, LLC announced plans to build 41 wind turbines in the county's southwest portion.

"When they first started considering projects in Taylor County," he said, "the supervisors felt like that was an agreement between the landowners and the wind turbine companies. We wanted to maintain as low of a profile as possible. Then after things started to proceed, we realized that there were certain checks and balances and safeguards that we needed to look into to protect the public interest, and the county's interest in these projects."

Additionally, Ambrose says the county entered into an agreement with Invenergy as part of an initiative called Contrail Wind Project LLC.

"We met the Contrail people several times," said Ambrose. "We felt like it was in the best interests of the county. They already spent a significant amount of time and money before the supervisors kind of got going on this. We have signed an agreement with Contrail to grandfather these first 40-41 wind turbines in. The agreement we have with them is basically the same as the wind turbine ordinance we're trying to pass right now."

Up to 30 people attended the hearing. Ambrose says residents speaking during the hearing were split on the ordinance, and wind turbines, in general.

"I would say that the feedback was about 50% positive," he said. "The other 50%, if not outright against them, expressed concerns. Some of them were concerns we hadn't thought of. It was a civil meeting, and I think everybody had an opportunity to present their opinion."

The supervisors hold the second public on the proposed ordinance next Monday morning at 10, once again in the courthouse's courtroom.

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