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County commissioners say no to wind farms  

Applause filled the Gillespie County Commissioners’ Courtroom Thursday after commissioners passed a resolution opposing wind farms in Gillespie County.

Signed by Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher and all four commissioners, the document states the court’s opposition to “the construction and installation of industrial wind farms in Gillespie County and the surrounding Hill Country area.”

Stroeher said that the Llano City Council had recently passed a similar resolution to the one approved during the meeting, which had been moved up from its originally scheduled date on Christmas Eve.

The court’s action comes soon after a similar resolution of principle was adopted by the Fredericksburg City Council at their Dec. 3 meeting and the recent announcement by NRG Energy that they were no longer considering a wind turbine site in Gillespie County.

Commissioner Donnie Schuch said the decision must “consider private property rights of everyone” and take into account what was “best for the total, not for the few.”

A highlight of the resolution, read in open court by Stroeher, was the commissioners’ concern of the “negative impact” economically that the county would see if turbines were constructed in the area.

The document notes the belief of appraisers and realtors “that land values in the area in which industrial wind farms are situated will be substantially decreased.”

The two-page resolution also cites an Electric Reliability Council of Texas report that the area is ranked 20th out of 25 potential wind areas in the state.

In their findings, however, the commissioners did acknowledge “that potential income to participating property owners who sign options for leases for wind turbines to be located on their property could be beneficial to those landowners.”

Other concerns raised in the resolution include wind turbine construction negatively altering views from Enchanted Rock State Natural Area as well as wildlife and environmental impacts that the construction of wind farms would bring to the region.

The court also acknowledged the efforts of members from the organization Save Our Scenic Hill Country who were on hand for the decision.

“We do appreciate what you all are doing out there,” Stroeher said, emphasizing the group’s efforts to educate members of the community about the issue.

The commissioners also discussed the impending leave of Constable Mark Tree, who will be on military duty for six months beginning Jan. 11.

Reservations were expressed on a number of related issues, with commissioners questioning their role in the matter.

“I don’t know if we can legally put an elected official on a leave of absence,” Commissioner Calvin Ransleben said.

The court noted that Tree could recommend a deputy constable that could perform his duties for the county while he was away, although the commissioners must approve any recommendation made.

Gillespie County Sheriff Milton Jung said his office would be able to assist with the service of civil papers.

Other duties normally handled by Tree, such as evictions and acting as bailiff of justice of the peace sessions, were “still issues to work through,” Stroeher said today, although the court would “try to leave” the remainder of Tree’s responsibilities to the sheriff’s office as well as Constable Warren Ottmers.

Stroeher said today that he was unsure whether or not the matter would be placed back on the agenda for a future meeting.

The commissioners also heard Thursday morning from Fire Marshall Steve Olfers, who said that conditions in the county remain the same and recommended no action be taken toward implementing a burn ban.

Olfers noted that 113 counties throughout the state are currently enforcing burn bans; however, in the area, Kerr County recently lifted their ban.

The commissioners noted the efforts to educate the public about fire safety.

Ransleben said that keeping the county safe from fires takes more than just the fire departments.

“It’s a little bit their (property owners) responsibility, too,” he said.

In other business Thursday, the court:

• Approved the reappointment of Tony Klein and Bob Spies to the Economic Development Commission Board of Directors for two-year terms.

• Approved the purchase and installation of carpet in the Law Enforcement Building dispatch area for a cost of $1,041.50.

• Accepted the donation of new furniture from the Friends of the Pioneer Memorial Library to the library.

• Approved co-sponsoring a nature tourism seminar with the Convention and Visitor Bureau Jan. 10.

• Approved the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission State Financial Assistance Contract for the 2008-2009 Biennium, including Amendments.

• Approved ending Unifirst service at the contract expiration date and contracting with G&K Services at an estimated savings of around $300 per week.

The next commissioners’ court meeting was scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 14.

The meeting, set for the county commissioners’ courtroom in the courthouse, will be open to the public.

The Fredericksburg Standard

27 December 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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