CONNEAUT – After an hour and half closed-door session, council members Wednesday took no immediate action to sell part of the East Conneaut Industrial Park.
Council met with interim city manager Edward Somppi to discuss an offer from SGR Site Associates, of Willoughby, which is interested in buying at least 159 acres of the East Conneaut Industrial Park to develop in a wind farm using turbine generators. The closed meeting also included State Rep. Deborah Newcomb of Conneaut and Joseph Mayernick, executive director of Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County.
After the executive session ended, Somppi told Council President James Jones that council should set a public information meeting on the company’s proposal. Before adjourning the special council meeting, Jones agreed to set the public meeting, but no date was announced.
Jones also tabled a discussion on a proposal to hire Silverlode Consulting Corp. of Cleveland until a company representative can be present. Councilor Chris Castrilla agreed to contact Silverlode officials for a joint public meeting with council. Several council members, including Charles Lewis, want more information on what the consulting firm can do for the city and at what cost.
As to the proposed wind farm, Somppi said SGR is seeking a one-year option to buy the desired property.
“Part of it is wetlands. They want to do a feasibility study first to see if the land is suitable for a wind farm. If they need more time than one year, they would take a second option. There are all kinds of environmental issues they must address,” Somppi said.
Conneaut City Council purchased 400 acres of the former U.S. Steel Co. land in the 1990s, part of which was sold to the Lake Erie Correctional Institution. The remaining 286 acres remain for the city to use for industrial park purposes, according to Somppi.
Newcomb told the council that the Ohio Senate Bill 221, an energy legislation bill, addresses certain requirements for Ohio electric utilities. By 2025 the power companies are to use renewable sources to produce 12.5 percent of the electricity generated and sold to customers, she said.
“We (Conneaut) have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor with a wind-turbine energy farm,” Somppi said. “SGR is also looking at two other large land holders of the old proposed steel-mill land to purchase more land.”
He stressed the importance of Conneaut residents having correct information and to get input from the public on the land-sale proposal now before council. Somppi also said that council must move forward on hiring engineering consultants to develop lots for prospective industries.
By Doris Cook
19 June 2008
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