MERRILLVILLE – The Town Council on Tuesday voted 6-0 to approve construction of a 159-foot wind turbine at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 697 training center/office at 7280 Mississippi St., a move that was supported by Hobart City Council President Jerry Herzog, D-1st.
The turbine will be used for instructional purposes and to generate power.
Crown Point engineer Jeff Ban, who represented the union, said he believed all technical concerns previously raised by Hobart and Merrillville officials were answered as he sought final municipal approval for the project. He said installation should take place in late summer or fall, pending some federal approvals.
“You guys have always done a top-notch job there. I don’t think we have anything to worry about,” Merrillville Councilman Shawn Pettit, D-6th, told IBEW officials attending the meeting.
Herzog and Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor had written a letter to Merrillville officials pointing out some concerns about the turbine on behalf of Hobart residents who live across Mississippi Street from where it will be located.
However, Herzog said Tuesday night he has since done his own research and visited similar turbines in Lafayette with Merrillville Councilman Tom Goralczyk, D-3rd, and IBEW representatives.
“At this time I have no problem with it and will support the installation of the wind turbine,” Herzog said.
Resident Carolyn Kirby continued to object to the project, telling council members she had a petition against the installation signed by Hobart residents, along with a recording of noise from the turbines at the Lafayette site.
“I have some serious apprehensions about the wind turbine going up,” she said.
Merrillville Council President Carol Miano, D-3rd, told Kirby to give the recording and petition to Hobart officials.
The proposal had narrowly passed the Merrillville Board of Zoning Appeals in late March, with three members voting in favor of height, location and use variances, one voting against it and one member abstaining. The member voting against the proposal had wanted to defer vote so he could visit the Lafayette location first to determine noise levels.
Goralczyk said he went inside the Lafayette turbines, where he said there was noise.
“But when you went outside, there was more noise from the wind,” Goralczyk said.
He added that the turbine will be monitored on a 24-hour basis.
The turbine will be built about 250 feet north and west of the intersection of Mississippi Street and 73rd Avenue.
Ban said power generated from the turbine will be used to power the facility, with any remaining power sold to Northern Indiana Public Service Co. Ban said this will help the union get back some of the $750,000 it’s investing in the turbine.
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