Vigo opposes bill as detrimental to home rule

Howard Greninger, The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind.
·2 min read

Feb. 23—An Indiana House Bill aimed at setting requirements for and the siting of wind and solar power farms got an unwelcome reception Tuesday from the Vigo County Board of Commissioners.

Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution opposing House Bill 1381, which is authored by Republican Rep. Ed Soliday of Valparaiso.

Commissioner Brendan Kearns said the Indiana Association of County Commissioners recommended opposing the bill, which would remove a policy of "home rule" from the county. Home rule, under state law, grants Indiana counties, cities and towns "all the powers that they need for the effective operation of government as to local affairs," according to Indiana state law.

The proposed legislation would establish default standards for development of solar and wind farms, such as property setback requirements, height restrictions and shadow flicker limitations. The bill, however, also restricts local authorities from imposing standards that are more restrictive than the state's default standards.

Vigo County has enacted countywide zoning, which includes development standards for solar and wind farms. Such companies must first obtain approval through the Vigo County Plan Commission and then approval from the Vigo County Board of Commissioners.

"Our association encouraged all county commissioners to support this resolution (against HB 1381), because if it does pass, it removes control from the county," Kearns said. "It is not about solar and wind, but Indianapolis taking more away from our own home. I feel we need to be the voice of Vigo County rather than somebody in Indianapolis that doesn't care about us."

Kearns said while Vigo County has a solar power farm near New Goshen, industry representatives he has spoken with stated Vigo County is not conducive to wind farms, unlike northern Indiana.

Conley appointed to CIB

Commissioner Chris Switzer said 48 of 92 Indiana counties as of Monday had passed the resolution opposing the bill.

In other business, the board appointed Terri Conley to a two-year term on the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board. Conley, a Democrat, is a vice president and commercial loan officer at Terre Haute Savings Bank. The CIB is currently overseeing the construction of a downtown Terre Haute convention center.

The appointment was required as county commissioners previously appointed three Republicans to the CIB. Under state law, the board cannot have more than four members of one political party.

As a result, Gary Morris, a newly appointed Republican member resigned from the board. With Conley, the CIB now has three Democrats and four Republicans.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.