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San Leandro business to build wind turbine on property

SAN LEANDRO – A 100-foot-tall wind turbine may soon be built in San Leandro by a business looking to power its operation with the sustainable energy source and use it to test new turbine parts.

San Leandro-based Halus Power Systems received approval for the turbine from the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustments on Thursday in a 4-0 vote, with three members absent, after a four-hour public hearing. The company needed approval for a variance to its permit, since the turbine would exceed the height limit of 60 feet typically permitted in the city’s industrial district. The single turbine will be built on the business’s 5-acre property on Grant Street, which borders the train tracks and the San Lorenzo Creek stormwater drainage channel, about 300 feet from a residential area.

The board’s approval is final unless someone appeals the decision to the City Council. The deadline to file an appeal is Feb. 22.

If no appeal is filed, the turbine could be built as soon as this summer, according to Louis Rigaud, general manager of Halus Power Systems, which manufactures and re-manufactures wind turbine components for commercial businesses, schools and farm properties.

Rigaud said he will use the turbine to both test new components and power most of his business. The 10-year-old company with 10 employees moved to San Leandro nearly three years ago from Hayward.

“I am grateful that the city supported our project and that the board of zoning
members voted to give us the variance,” Rigaud said Friday.

Halus Power Systems’ initial application for the turbine in the summer of 2012 met resistance from the nearby Heron Bay Homeowners Association. A. Alan Berger, attorney for the 629-home association, and a dozen individual members spoke at Thursday’s hearing and formally submitted their concerns to the city in the last several months.

In the documents, the association argued the turbine would have a significant adverse impact to the area’s aesthetics, noise levels, property values and bird population as well as possibly causing a disruption of airplane navigation, among other issues.

Berger urged the city to conduct a complete environmental impact report and adopt criteria for wind turbine additions “rather than approve this particular turbine without sufficient study, thereby setting a dangerous and permanent precedent.”

An initial study of the project by the city’s community development director found it would not have a significant effect on the environment, so no environmental impact report was required, city documents state.

As of Friday afternoon, no appeals of the turbine decision had been filed with the city clerk, officials said.