St. Lucie County Commissioner Paula Lewis said Thursday that she won’t support wind turbines in Blind Creek Park and became the third of five commissioners to speak against the project.
“Conservation lands are just not the place for wind turbines,” Lewis said. “I’m still pondering whether wind turbines should be allowed other places in the county.”
Lewis’ decision means a majority of commissioners oppose the project and it would lose if the board voted today.
It’s not clear what effect commission rejection of the project would have on state reviews of Florida Power & Light’s proposal.
FPL’s request to use public land ordinarily would die if either the county or state Acquisition and Restoration Council rejects it, said Sarah Williams, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The governor and Cabinet could review use of public land if it’s deemed to be “of heightened public concern,” Williams said.
Use of public land is not the only issue county officials will consider.
Commissioners have to approve a variance to height restrictions before a structure as tall as a 40-story building can be built.
Lewis joins County Commissioner Doug Coward who has said for weeks that he opposes wind turbines on conservation land.
County Commissioner Chris Craft said Tuesday night that he no longer supports FPL’s proposal because of doubts about whether it provides enough benefits in electricity production.
FPL has proposed putting three wind turbines on public land and six on its own property at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant.
The nine turbines would produce 20 megawatts of electricity, enough for 3,000 houses for one year, according to the company.
The utility company would give no reaction to Lewis’ announcement.
“We won’t have any comment on this project,” spokeswoman Amy Brunjes said for the second day in a row.
Lewis said she made her decision after reading memos from Mosquito Control Director Jim David and Steve Fousek of the Environmental Resources Department.
“They said Blind Creek is irreplaceable,” Lewis said.
David wrote the site is valuable because of Native American burials and artifacts found there, and more excavation by archaeologists may be needed.
He also questioned the idea of burying an electric cable through wetlands on the site.
St. Lucie County contributed $3.6 million toward the land purchase using proceeds of a bond issue approved by voters for preservation and recreation lands.
County Attorney Dan McIntyre recommended commissioners not allow wind turbines because of legal restrictions on use of the money.
The site is jointly owned by the state and South Florida Water Management District, but managed by the county.
By Jim Reeder
7 March 2008
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