FORT PIERCE – A plan to build electricity-producing windmills on John Brooks Park and other public property on Hutchinson Island could face legal hurdles if St. Lucie County commissioners decide to support the idea.
Commissioners are considering a Florida Power & Light Co. proposal to build nine 400-foot-tall turbines on its property near the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant and on public land, including John Brooks Park.
But, according to a 1988 lease St. Lucie County officials signed to operate the state-owned park, the park is to be used for “environmental protection and compatible public recreation and related purposes.”
Use of the other county-owned parcel could be limited by terms of a 1982 bond issue voters approved to preserve public beach access, County Attorney Dan McIntyre said.
“We will have to deal with it if the commission decides to go this route,” McIntyre said. “Florida Power & Light will have to go to the state to change the lease.”
McIntyre hopes to complete his research and give commissioners a report this week on the history and possible restrictions on the use of John Brooks Park, Frederick Douglass Beach and other parcels.
Commissioner Charles Grande said the board will have to consider such restrictions carefully.
“Any property with terms that disqualify this use will give us great pause,” Grande said.
There may be other sites on the island for the turbines, he said.
The county recently removed debris from a site south of John Brooks Park that isn’t used for public beach access, he said.
“I don’t know why it’s not in the mix as a possible wind farm,” Grande said.
County Commissioner Doug Coward said during a meeting last week that FPL should look for privately owned property as an alternative.
He and members of the late John Brooks’ family said the land was bought for recreation and beach preservation and should be used that way.
“This proposal for wind turbines on public land is not consistent with the purpose and intent of local and state conservation and recreation programs,” Coward said.
FPL would pay the county to lease the public land.
By Jim Reeder
2 December 2007
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