Commissioners approve moratorium on new wind farm projects

Mar. 19—ANDERSON — A moratorium on the development of any new wind farms in Madison County has been approved by the Madison County Board of Commissioners.

The Commissioners Tuesday voted to approve the recommendation of the county's Plan Commission to put in place the moratorium

The county adopted a wind farm ordinance in 2002 and only one project has been approved since that time in northern Madison County.

Larry Strange, director of the Planning Department, said the ordinance should be reviewed.

"The ordinance should be reviewed prior to any new applications for a wind farm or battery storage facilities," Strange said.

Commissioner John Richwine asked what time frame was included with the moratorium.

Strange said there was no limit on the length of the moratorium set by the Plan Commission, but anticipated having the ordinance reviewed within one year.

He previously said the application process for future wind farm developments should be similar to the procedures adopted in the county's new solar energy ordinance.

"The wind ordinance should have the same level of scrutiny," he said. "There should be a site development plan review that would have to be approved by the Plan Commission."

The Commissioners also approved an amendment to the county's solar ordinance.

The amendment changes the proposed three-mile buffer zone between any solar energy facility and local waterways to one-mile.

Strange said a one-mile buffer zone is sufficient.

In other business, the Commissioners announced that the Madison County Government Center would be closed on April 8, the day of the solar eclipse.

Commissioner Olivia Pratt said the county's criminal justice system has already decided to be closed that day and it made sense to close the government offices.

Commissioner Richwine said despite rumors, the county's health insurance program for county employees is in good financial shape.

He said last year the county was able to transfer $1.5 million into the insurance reserve fund.

"We made the plan more friendly for employees," Richwine said. "We anticipate a surplus at the end of the year."

He said there should be no change in the rates paid for health insurance by county employees in 2025.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.