Greentown – Eastern Howard School Corp. officially is scrapping a wind turbine project after receiving a certified petition against it, superintendent Tracy Caddell said Thursday.
Caddell said the school board might still need to take a vote on the issue. The superintendent said he plans to discuss the next steps to take with the school board’s attorney.
Caddell said he will take care of any necessary formalities as soon as possible.
“I want to assure the public that we are not moving forward with the project,” he said.
He said he wants to keep a promise made to the opposition. Earlier this month, the school board announced it would abandon the project if the opposition could get 100 certified signatures from voters or property owners in the school district.
Opponents of the project said they submitted nearly 250 signatures for verification.
This week, the Howard County Auditor and Voter Registration offices jointly certified 222 signatures, according to Carol Shallenbarger of the voter registration office.
Caddell said he had just picked those documents up Thursday afternoon and hadn’t reviewed them.
“But I believe in the democratic process,” Caddell said.
Also this week, local planning officials said they won’t hold a hearing on the schools’ application for a zoning variance.
School officials need a variance in order to install a wind turbine closer than 1 mile from a residential neighborhood; there are six neighborhoods in Greentown within a mile of the proposed turbine.
Plans to seek a variance for the turbine were postponed last week, when school officials indicated they hadn’t yet completed a legal description of the turbine location.
An attorney for the schools told Kokomo-Howard County Plan Commission officials that as of March 12, adjoining property owners hadn’t yet been notified of the hearing, and that a legal notice for the hearing hadn’t been published in local newspapers.
The attorney indicated the school board might seek to have the variance heard at the next meeting of the Howard County Board of Zoning Appeals, which would be April 24.
Caddell said the corporation will now turn its attention to reducing expenditures. The wind turbine was supposed to be a way to generate revenue for Eastern schools, he said.
“Now we’re left with no revenue side,” he said. “And we have a budget deficit in the general fund.”
The corporation is OK for now, he said, but the deficit can’t be sustained for more than a couple of years.
Eastern already has instituted a hiring freeze to save money.
The corporation also will look to increase revenue by attracting more students to the corporation. Caddell said Eastern is always trying to market its schools.
“We’re staying positive,” he said.
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