The agenda said Pinkerton Oil Co. at 75 E. U.S. 20 was seeking a zoning
variance to permit the installation of a windmill having a height of 120
What the Porter Board of Zoning Appeals approved Wednesday was a 120-foot
windmill tower plus the 11 foot-long rotors increasing the structure’s total
height. The rotor-assembly diameter itself may not exceed 31 feet.
According to adjacent East Oak Hill Road neighbors Bob and Karen Kenney, the
lone remonstrators, that’s not fair.
Karen Pisowicz, an Ed McDashowicz Drive neighbor, spoke in favor of the
windmill proposed by Pinkerton property owners Bob and Maria Poparad. Their
petition was brought by attorney Bob Welsh.
Conditions were attached to the BZA’s 3-1 approval with Greg Stinson absent.
Board members Ken Timm, Elka Nelson and Lorain Bell were in favor; president
Henry Huyser voted no.
Welsh said Pinkerton will use the windmill to generate electricity to help
operate the fuel-oil business. “Is it really a practical difficulty that you
can’t use the property without it?” asked Huyser, who said noise was an
The BZA’s motion included that sound emitting from the windmill may not
exceed 60 decibels at the Pinkerton property line. BZA attorney Laura Frost
said the condition must be a written commitment recorded prior to windmill
Required findings of fact supporting the BZA’s decision and listing all
conditions related to it will be adopted next month, said Frost.
The windmill needed a variance because the Porter zoning ordinance limits
the height of accessory structures to 18 feet. Commented Bell, “This is a
first for us but it won’t be the last. I think this is something we have to
be accustomed to and do something with an ordinance that allows these
(alternative energy devices).”
From the audience, resident Debbie Bowen asked, “Is what you’re saying
everybody can put a windmill up?” Huyser said the public comment portion of
the meeting was closed.
At Bell’s suggestion town planner Jim Mandon agreed to convene a workshop of
BZA and Plan Commission members to begin work on an ordinance to regulate
devices like windmills and solar panels.
Advised Mandon, “You can allow it but you have to put conditions on it. We
need to have regulations to protect people who live near potential sites
Welsh said the Pinkerton windmill will be placed southwest of the retail
fuel pumps on the 13-acre site in a clearing in woods so the first 75 feet
of the tower will be obscured by trees. He also noted there is 165 feet
between the tower and the fuel pumps and an equally safe distance from the
tower to other structures on the property and beyond it.
Welsh said the three-leg lattice tower is rated for 126 mph winds, will be
installed on concrete piers, doesn’t require aviation warning lights, and
won’t allow advertising or cause a flickering effect on the ground due to
the blades’ slow rotation.
“Hopefully, there is no significant downside to this,” Welsh told the BZA,
emphasizing that the existing taller communications towers to the east near
Indiana 49 have posed no problems.
Bob Kenney said the top of the windmill will be very observable despite the
woods. NIPSCO won’t generate less electricity because of the windmill, he
added, and it’s ironic that a company that sells fossil fuel wants to use
less of it. The only benefits will be to Pinkerton, said Kenney, and the
tower could harm birds. “How many endangered or protected birds will be
Karen Kenney said she’s not against alternative energy but the windmill will
not be aesthetically pleasing. Welsh said the structure will be about 500
feet away from the Kenneys’ home and the windmill won’t result in a loss of
value for surrounding properties.
In other business, the BZA determined that James and Jill Pawlicki don’t
need zoning variances to tear down a non-conforming home and build a new
structure on a non-conforming lot with inadequate frontage at 650 Johnson
St. Mandon said town code addresses non-conforming lots of record if certain
conditions apply and in the Pawlicki case, variances aren’t needed.
The couple withdrew their petition and the BZA voted that their application
fee be refunded.
A public hearing
was set for Oct. 19 for Douglas Leicht, who requires a variance to replace a
fence in the front yard on a corner lot at 110 Wagner Rd. An additional
variance for the fence height will be needed.