A request to erect a 120-foot windmill to generate electricity for Pinkerton
Oil at 75 East U.S. 20 advanced to public hearing Sept. 21.
The petition prompted Porter town planner Jim Mandon to recommend the town
adopt an ordinance putting conditions on the installation and use of
While windmills, wind turbines, solar panels and similar structures should
be encouraged, Mandon told the Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday, their
design, location, operation, sound emitted and visual aesthetics all need to
Bob and Maria Poparad, owners of the Pinkerton Oil property on the south
side of U.S. 20 between Indiana 49 and Waverly Road, want to locate the
windmill at the front of a tree line beyond a small block building,
according to their attorney Bob Welsh.
The 20-kW windmill would be at least 300 feet from the nearest business and
430 feet from the nearest home, he added.
BZA member Greg Stinson, chairing the meeting in the absence of president
Henry Huyser, asked whether the windmill could topple and strike a Pinkerton
fueling station near the company’s offices and yard. Welsh said more-exact
measurements will be provided next month.
Member Elka Nelson questioned the windmill’s sound level. Welsh replied the
noise factor at its base is compared to listening to an air conditioner.
Member Lorain Bell inquired if the proposed windmill is a preliminary step
and Poparad may want a taller one in the future. Poparad said no, 120 feet
is the tallest of the small sizes; next would be a commercial wind turbine.
Welsh said the reason Poparad is before the BZA is because Porter’s zoning
ordinance doesn’t address windmills and the like. The ordinance does however
limit accessory structures to 18 feet in height so a developmental standards
variance is being sought.
After the 4-0 vote setting the public hearing, Mandon detailed a list of
concerns BZA members should consider prior to the Sept. 21 meeting. Welsh
was provided with a copy.
Mandon said his review of ordinances from several communities shows many
things need to be addressed including banning advertising on windmills,
minimizing the shadow-flicker of the blades, requiring monopoles instead of
a tripod base and that the structure be torn down if abandoned.
Even if the Porter Plan Commission recommends a windmill ordinance to the
Town Council and one is adopted, said Mandon, petitioners still could seek a
variance from its provisions like Poparad is doing from the zoning
Despite the fact alternative-energy structures aren’t specifically addressed
there now, added Mandon, “You’d definitely want to put conditions on a
request like this if you were inclined to grant a variance.”
Porter director of engineering and development Matt Keiser asked if the BZA
wants town department heads to meet as a Technical Advisory Committee to
review Poparad’s petition. The consensus was no TAC meeting is needed.