Discussion of a proposed wind farm on El Paso’s west side will be postponed until July.
The Woodford County Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved the city’s request Wednesday night, putting off hearings set for this week and next. The move allows the city time to arrange for legal counsel because John Stoller, the city’s attorney, has a conflict of interest.
“We just wanted the board to give us time to catch our breath and also give more people the opportunity to get involved,” said Mayor Herb Arbuckle. “Right now there are three camps: those for the wind farms, those against, and those who are uniformed.”
Attorney Paul Lewis, who represents Minnesota-based Navistar Energy, told the board the company doesn’t oppose rescheduling the public hearing, but is concerned that the project may be unnecessarily delayed by “unwieldy comments” from people who don’t have property near the site.
“Everyone has a right to voice their opinion, but we request that the testimony is limited to those with a legitimate concern regarding property rights,” said Lewis.
“The city has a definite interest and the board should hear from them, but testimony from someone living 10 miles away with no property rights extends the meeting time to the point that the project would be killed,” he said. “We have a window of opportunity, so we have to keep an eye on our leases, contracts with electric companies and turbine reservations.”
The 42-turbine wind farm was proposed at a City Council meeting in March with a promise of 30 to 50 short-term construction jobs, up to six permanent jobs, and power for 24,000 homes.
The City Council approved a resolution Monday requesting the delay and expressing opposition to construction within 1.5 miles of the city limits.
The zoning board will discuss the proposal at a July 25 public hearing at Grace Fellowship Church.
By Dave Tompkins
23 May 2007
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