It is with great frustration and disappointment that I sit back at my computer and draft this column.
I previously sent the Cass County Commissioners a letter urging them to consider changing the current Cass County Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) Ordinance. I had prepared to take time off work to attend the May 1, 2018 meeting in hopes of being given the opportunity to share for two minutes during the public comments portion of the meeting. However, that meeting was cancelled once again.
First and foremost I ask them, how are you conducting business and ensuring safety of Cass County residents? As I have looked over previous months' agendas and meeting minutes it seems that there is always an address that is of concern and reports that are made regarding follow up visits to unsafe properties. Have there been no concerns since January? No business to complete? No reason to hold your monthly meeting? It seems that avoidance is a key component here.
In the Tuesday, May 3, 2016 Planning Commission Meeting Minutes it is documented: “Resolution #16-02 Wind Ordinance: Mrs. Shaver explained that Cass, Miami, and White Counties have wind ordinance but with different structures than what we have in the zoning ordinance; if a wind development were to be considered for all counties, it would be easier if all ordinances were structured the same. The following are changes proposed to our ordinance…”
Let me remind you, Fulton County has changed their ordinance, Miami County has proposed changes to their ordinance and Pulaski County is proposing changes to their ordinance. All of these counties have increased the setbacks to protect residents. In my previous letter, I requested that commissioners consider measuring setbacks from a property line and not from a residential structure, and that the setbacks be measured as a multiplier of the height of the turbine. A recent study completed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory that recommends a safe setback to be 3.5 times the overall height of the turbine (hub height plus rotor radius) from a dwelling and 2 times the overall height from a property line.
Some of the current commissioners were involved in the process of completing the Cass County Comprehensive Plan that was adopted in July 2009. The planning commission website has the Comprehensive Plan posted and is referenced to be the guide for the county for the next 20 years. Here is the vision statement from that document:
"The people of Cass County are constantly achieving a higher level of excellence in development of their state of the art facilities, economic vitality, quality infrastructure, efficient and well-coordinated government, progressive schools, and scenic rural countryside that contribute to an enviable quality of life. The local economic vitality is advanced by developing the county’s assets that include a strong commitment to medical services and being the regional center for value-added agriculture. Cass County residents continue to create a community of choice by protecting and enhancing local assets with a cooperative spirit, while managing growth in a way that allows future generations to benefit from the land, economy, and quality of life. We are Cass County — committed to the preservation of all things that are good, for generations to come!"
Are we still committed to the preservation of all things that are good?
Paige Woodhouse is resident of Royal Center.