Kalida and Union Township residents filled the village council chambers Monday night to voice their opinion on the wind turbine project proposed by KMI, Inc. (Kalida Manufacturing Inc.). The company is proposing the installation of two turbines on 52 acres of land they want to purchase adjacent to their existing plant.
“In my nine years as mayor we have more people here than I have had in the previous 200 meetings before this,” said Mayor Alan Gerdeman. “This shows a real interest in the issue on the agenda tonight.”
Following a lengthy, and at times vociferous, discussion of the wind turbine project, council voted 3-2 against proceeding with the first reading of a rewritten ordinance to amend the zoning rules which would allow wind turbines in industrial areas. It was then the consensus of council to obtain information from the Putnam County Board of Elections to put the issue on a special election.
Following a presentation by opposition spokesmen Dan Lucke of Kalida and Don Selhorst of Union Township and other comments, the mayor asked council members to approve the first reading of the revised ordinance. “This does not mean that council has approved the installation of the wind turbines, but only lifts the restriction on the height restriction in industrial areas,” clarified Gerdeman.
At that point, Councilman Richard Bockrath asked the village solicitor, Jennifer Klausing, what it would take to get the issue on a ballot. Following the vote, Fiscal Officer Rita Schroeder was instructed to meet with the Board of Elections.
When questioned if the wind turbine project will still go forward if the issue goes to a ballot, KMI plant manager Rick Esch replied, “I am not saying anything at this point because I do not know the future.” In order to receive the current tax credit for the 6.2 million project, the turbines must be installed and operational by the end of the year.
“The only alternative then is to look into a special election and see how that shakes out,” concluded Gerdeman. “If the timing is such that it does not work out for KMI then it is out of our control, but at least the residents will have an opportunity to speak their piece.”
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