Photo by Nick Fiala

Members of the Jasper County Plan Commission sit in session at the Jasper County Courthouse on Monday.

RENSSELAER — The Jasper County Plan Commission OK’d a draft Monday of the solar power amendment for the county’s Unified Development Ordinance.

Members of county government have also confirmed that a committee will be discussing wind turbine setback regulations in the near future.

The county has not previously had such an amendment for solar power, but one has recently been planned since several companies have shown interest in putting solar farms on county property.

That said, Building Director Mary Scheurich said no solar power company had input in the planning of the draft. It was instead drafted by a special committee.

The commission voted to positively recommend the draft to the Jasper County Commissioners, albeit with a suggestion that a specific timeline be required for projects to decommission solar panels.

Companies interested in placing solar power in Jasper County include Orion Renewable Energy Group.

Kendell Culp, president of the Jasper County Commissioners, said he expects the amendment to be passed into law by the board of commissioners on Monday morning.

“I’ve seen the preliminary report that they acted upon and they only made one final change,” Culp said, referring to the events of this past Monday’s meeting. “I would expect for that to pass through on Monday.”

Setback committee made

Since the county’s new wind ordinance draft was approved by the board of commissioners recently, citizens have been told that there would be further changes to address concerns over wind turbine setbacks.

Since that time, a special committee has been formed, featuring members of all three major county government bodies — the board of commissioners, plan commission and the Jasper County Board of Zoning Appeals. It is hoped that having members from all three groups in one committee will speed up what local leaders have admitted is normally a time-consuming legislative process.

The plan commission and the commissioners notably butted heads over the draft of the wind ordinance before it was finally passed.

“The hope is there’s agreement between both entities, the commissioners and the plan commission” Culp said. “If they reach agreement then, hopefully, it’s something everybody can support, and we won’t have to have the back-and-forth like we did before.”

The membership of the committee which will be discussing the setbacks includes Dick Maxwell, Vince Urbano, Bryan Overstreet, Todd Peterson, Lance Strange, Kent Korniack Todd Sammons and Mary Scheurich.

Scheurich, the Jasper County building inspector who put together the committee, said she hopes to get all the members together sometime early next week to begin discussions.

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