The San Leandro City Council appoved the building of a windmill by Halus Power Systems Monday night.
The council voted five to one in favor of the project, disappointing the 1,500-member Heron Bay Homeowners Association. It had hoped to force Halus to do an environmental impact report as a way to stall or stop the project.
Councilwoman Ursula Reed was alone in opposition.
Councilmembers Diana Sousa, Pauline Cutter, Jim Prola, Vice-Mayor Michael Gregory and Mayor Stephen Cassidy voted in favor.
Councilmember Benny Lee, a former officer of the homeowners association who had spoken against the project before his election in November, recused himself from the vote and stepped out of the chamber during the two-plus hours of presentations and public hearing.
The Halus project was approved in February by the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA). The company refurbishes used windmills and reinstalls them for the purpose of generating electricity off-the-grid, mainly at farms.
Monday night’s vote rejected an appeal by the Heron Bay Homeowners Association. Its boundary lies about 500 feet from the proposed 100-foot tall windmill that Halus wants to erect.
Attorney Alan Berger argued on behalf of the 629-home association.
Among other things, Berger said Halus should have done an environmental impact report (EIR), rather than a mitigated negative review, a less-costly and less-comprehensive document that it showed the city to say, in essence, that the project would have no significant impact on the environment.
Berger also said the city violated its own rules in the process of approving the project, and that one member of the BZA, Janet Palma, had prejudiced the vote by posting comments in a Patch article before the November city election.
Halus founder Louis Rigaud said he would use the windmill to test new components designed in the course of doing research and development.
Rigaud suggested that Halus was becoming a player in wind power research, with windmills installed at Texas Tech University, which he described as the preeminent research unit in this branch of the green energy industry.
Halus would also use the windmill to field test refurbished motors before shipping them to customers, and to generate electricity for its business.
Mayor Stephen Cassidy asked Rigaud whether he would accept a restriction that one and only one windmill be built on his property at the end of Grant Avenue. Rigaud said he only needed one windmill and would accept such a condition.
Before voting, council members instructed staff to write such a requirement into the city’s agreement with Rigaud.
Most of the 14 people who spoke during the public hearing were Heron Bay Homeowners opposed to what some called the “monstrous” windmill.
During his presentation on behalf of their behalf, attorney Berger made at least two references to the possibility that the association would appeal the council’s decision to Alameda County Superior Court.
Cassidy said he understood the passion that neighbors brought to the debate and the possibility that they have not exhausted their opposition.
“If the homeowners association files a lawsuit it will be up to the Superior Court and this won’t be the end,” he said after Monday night’s vote.
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