Putnam County residents looking for a final decision about wind farms in the county will have to wait as the board unanimously voted to extend the current moratorium on wind turbines to Sept. 30.
This decision came after a lengthy public comment section in which many residents voiced their disapproval of the possibility of a wind farm in the county.
The board said it came to this decision to allow the county zoning board and itself more time to gather accurate information to make the decision they feel is best for Putnam County and its residents.
The board said the county’s zoning contained no specification on wind turbines prior to 2016. Those 2016 zoning specifications still are in place as a moratorium has been in place since August 2021 to allow time to revisit the requirements.
This moratorium was scheduled to be lifted as of April 15 before it received Monday’s extension. The passed resolution stated “The Putnam County Zoning board feels as if it has not had sufficient time to review the proposed amendment and proposed public hearings regarding the issue.”
If eventually approved, a proposed wind farm could be placed on privately-owned land, following all zoning specifications. Board Chairman Charles Lenkaitis mentioned as long as the rules are followed, individuals should be able to use their land how they would like.
“Right now, if you own land and you are following the zoning regulations and laws of the land, you can do with your property what you see fit,” Lenkaitis said. “I don’t believe it’s anyone’s right to tell their neighbor what they should do with their land.”
Lenkaitis also said this project would add about $65 million to the county’s equalized assessed value. The added business would likely lower homeowner’s property taxes, according to Lenkaitis.
The board discussed various topics with the public for nearly 20 minutes as all parties cited from articles and research they have read up until this point. Lenkaitis mentioned people will find the kind of articles they are looking for and both sides need to find a common ground to move forward.
“I’m sure that wherever we’re going to look for articles, you’re going to find these articles and those articles; pros and cons,” Lenkaitis said. “The way that I look at it is that we have to figure out something in the middle. I could shout from a mountain top and anyone else could, but it’s in that valley that we’ll find a way to move forward.”
The moratorium will now be in effect for the next six months unless the board decides to extend or end it prior to Sept 20. The board said it will now perform its due diligence on the side of county zoning in order to make a decision.