A variance approved by a city board in December to a downtown Wapakoneta business owner to construct a 100-foot wind turbine tower has been voided and will not be granted at this time. Wapakoneta City Zoning Board of Appeals President Dale Thomas announced the minutes from the Dec. 27 meeting, including the granting of a 51-foot variance, were voided because of an issue with the notification process. Richard and John McCormick of JMC Mechanical sought a 51-foot variance for a 100-foot wind turbine tower.
“The notification process states the city has to notify people within 250 feet from the site, which is a new change as a result of the city comprehensive plan, while city employees used the old ordinance which says the city must notify adjoining property owners,” Thomas told the Wapakoneta Daily News after Monday’s meeting. “We just made a mistake.”
McCormick’s application for a variance is still valid, but the notification process must start over. There was no wrongdoing by the McCormicks during the variance request process.
During Monday’s meeting where minutes from the Dec. 27 meeting were voided, Thomas announced the McCormicks intend to hold a public meeting regarding their plans.
McCormick, who is working with consultants with One Energy, of Marshall, Minn., intends to construct a 100-foot tall
wind turbine tower with 20-foot blades, which would generate 20 kilowatts of power. He said it could produce 50 decibels of sound at a distance of 50 feet while operating at maximum speed.
The wind turbine is expected to start producing energy with 3 mph winds and would lock down at high wind speeds. The tower is capable of turning toward the wind to maximize electric power output.
McCormick said One Energy worked with Upper Scioto Valley Schools on construction of their wind tubines and he noted the manufacturer will maintain the tower for the first five years, McCormick said.
Wapakoneta City Council Chambers attracted approximately 20 people, many who were opposed to the tower’s possible construction.
One group is the Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership, which was represented by past President Deb Zwez, who was involved in writing the city’s comprehensive plan.
“No. 1 we think it violates the spirit of the comprehensive plan that says downtown Wapakoneta should be the heart of the community,” Zwez said. “We believe downtown Wapakoneta’s success is going to be based on mixed uses such as retail, service and residential and in no way does the placement of a wind turbine downtown invite people into the downtown area.”
She said they also object on the basis of noise and flicker issues as well as issues with the fall zone, which would include the CSX railroad tracks.
“While we, as a group, are proponents of wind energy, we would certainly support efforts to place wind turbines in an area where it wouldn’t be such a distraction to citizens,” Zwez said. “We really don’t think that a wind turbine’s place is in downtown.”
The former Wapakoneta City Council member said members of the group intend to address councilors in the future to have their position read into the record. They would support councilors move forward and enact ordinances which would help fulfill the comprehensive plan and for councilors to approve a moratorium until such ordinances could be written.
Mayor Rodney Metz, who attended the meeting, intends to address councilors on the matter during Monday’s Wapakoneta City Council meeting and agreed with Thomas that a moratorium is an option.
“I will request city council to look at all aspects of alternative energy, whether it is wind turbines or solar panels, in regards to safety, appropriate locations and how to deal with the energy it generates,” Metz said. “Currently, we have no way to deal with a business that generates more electricity than it uses.”
If new ordinances were crafted, Metz said city council would likely hold hearings on the changes.
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