CORPUS CHRISTI – SINTON – City and school officials could be shaping up for a legal battle over the Sinton school district’s wind turbine plan, based on comments at a City Council meeting Tuesday.
The school district wants to build two 155-foot turbines on the high school campus, but the city’s planning board denied the district several variances to an ordinance that governs turbine placement in the city.
That decision came after some residents objected to the school’s plan over concerns about noise and property values for nearby homes and land. A developer is considering building homes there.
Sinton Independent School District trustees are moving forward with the plan despite the city’s decision, with their attorney saying courts have held that zoning rules can’t be enforced on school districts except in matters of health or safety.
But at a City Council meeting Tuesday night, City Manager Jackie Knox quoted from a Texas Attorney General’s opinion in 2009 that says cities may enforce land development regulations against a school district for aesthetics or to maintain property values.
“We feel the attorney general’s interpretation is what we have to go by,” Knox said.
It’s not clear what effect a legal dispute could have on the project. Sinton ISD Superintendent Steve VanMatre has said the district must build the turbines by April or risk losing federal grant funding.
And the district isn’t through clearing hurdles at City Hall. Knox said the district will have to get building permits for the project.
The district would use $974,000 in federal grant money and $243,000 in district funds. The project is expected to save more than $33,000 a year in energy costs. The district will have to pay for transformers and for maintenance after a five-year warranty expires.
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