September 14, 2006

Tower to test wind potential in Allen

Firm wins OK to study site as energy producer
By Benjamin Lanka
The Journal Gazette

A Philadelphia company Tuesday received permission to test whether eastern Allen County is suitable for a wind farm.

The Allen County Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved Community Energy’s request to establish a meteorological wind study facility along South State Line Road, south of Gar Creek Road.

The company plans to build a 197-foot-tall tower to gauge whether the area has enough wind to establish a wind farm. Brian Cocca, wind development associate with Community Energy, said the tower ““ or mast ““ will be a temporary structure that is solar powered.

The board granted the company an exemption to use the agriculturally zoned land for five years. Cocca said it sometimes takes that long to determine whether land can be used, especially this area, which he said is a “marginal wind resource.”

The board voted to require the company to get Federal Aviation Administration approval for the tower, which county staff said was fairly standard for all new towers.

Board members tried to determine how large a wind farm would be if the site was found to be suitable, but Cocca said he could not offer a guess at this point. He said the size and how many towers would depend on how much wind the site has. He said the company is currently investigating how to connect a potential wind farm to the electrical grid.

In other business, the board approved allowing The Dome on Engle Road to add outdoor eating pavilions and soccer fields. The company, formerly known as The Golf Dome, will be able to use the pavilions for private events. Dan Arnold, co-owner of The Dome, said the company will no longer pursue installing go-karts, bumper boats, a baseball training facility or a pro shop. The board eliminated those from the possible uses at the site.

The board also approved the construction of an assisted living center on West County Line Road, north of Indiana 14. The proposal calls for three buildings, which will be open around the clock and offer light nursing assistance for people suffering from low-level dementia. The facility would be surrounded by farmland in Allen County, but a different assisted living center is directly across the Whitley County border.

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