GREENTOWN – Eastern Howard Schools superintendent Tracy Caddell said Monday the school board is considering alternate sites for a proposed wind turbine project, which would build a 287-foot-tall windmill to produce energy for the schools.
Caddell’s announcement came a day before tonight’s school board meeting, which will feature an official public comment period on the project.
Opponents of the project are expected to remonstrate at the meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at the corporation office, 221 W. Main St., Greentown.
Last year, school officials announced they were considering placing a single wind turbine, up to 350 feet tall, next to the town’s water tower on the southern edge of Greentown.
The turbine would have been close to twice as tall as the water tower as planned, although Caddell said Monday the Federal Aviation Administration is requiring the schools to downsize the turbine.
Caddell said he now hopes to place a 287-foot turbine either at land the school already owns near the water tower or some place else.
“We don’t own any land other than the parcel by the water tower, so it may be cost prohibitive [to build elsewhere],” Caddell said. “Our current site is still the primary site under consideration, but we wanted to see if we could create a win-win situation.”
Caddell didn’t identify any of the alternate sites, but said they are all farther away from the town than the water tower site.
By law, the school board would also have to receive a planning variance before erecting a wind turbine anywhere closer than 1 mile from a residential neighborhood.
Opponents of the project point to the fact the water tower site is within a quarter-mile of at least two Greentown neighborhoods, and within a half-mile of several others.
Friday was the deadline for the school’s filing for a variance, if school officials hoped to have the variance heard at the February Howard County Plan Commission meeting.
Caddell said Monday the schools didn’t file for the variance by the deadline because officials “didn’t want to rush” the process.
“We wanted to make sure we did due diligence and got the word out, and talked to folks about the project,” he added.
Caddell said he plans to present information from studies conducted by an engineering firm that is hoping to land the turbine project.
He said the company, Performance Services, is finishing an environmental study of the project’s impacts. He said the school hasn’t paid Performance for the study and doesn’t have a contract with the company, but that the company has “probably built more wind turbines than any other company in Indiana.”
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