The condition of the former Minerva school gymnasium and a potential wind energy project brought members of the community out to Tuesday’s Mason County Fiscal Court.
Minerva residents Allison and Chris McQuire told county officials the gym property is in such a dilapidated state they can no longer enjoy their yard or swimming pool because of mosquitos. Allison McQuire said in order to enjoy the pool, she must spray down her children with mosquito repellant and asked if there could be something done with the building and the tires stacked up outside and inside the structure.
Allison McQuire said she became sick last summer for more than a month and said she may have had some form of the West Nile virus because doctors couldn’t diagnosis exactly what was wrong with her.
The McQuires said the roof of the building has collapsed and the floor of the gym has also caved in. Chris McQuire said he estimated at least 100 tires to be inside the structure, with an additional 100 stacked up on the grounds of the property, providing a breeding ground.
In addition to the mosquito problem, the couple said people are constantly on the property looking for scrap metal because it has become a dumping ground. Allison McQuire also told the court neighborhood children have been playing in and around the building, causing a safety issue as well.
Judge-Executive James L. “Buddy” Gallenstein said he is aware of the condition of the property, which has gone into foreclosure by the owner. With the property being in the hands of the mortgage lender, the county is limited as to what they can do to the property.
Gallenstein said the county would secure the property by putting a barricade at the entrance to the property. In addition, he said the county would consider removing the tires from the outside of the property and evaluate if removal of the tires on the interior is something the county could take care.
The school was abandoned after Straub Elementary School was built in 1980.
The court also heard from members of the May’s Lick Community Development Group, who asked the court to draft and impose a countywide moratorium on wind energy projects so necessary zoning, regulations and policies of such a project could be studied. The issue was raised after property owners learned Duke Energy has been engaged in a test project in the area for the last 10 months. Duke Energy has been in dialog with May’s Lick landowners about securing land for the project should it prove viable and is still one year away from making a decision to go forward with a wind turbine farm in the county, according to Gallenstein.
This is the second time Mason County has been tapped as a test site for wind energy. The first was approximately two years ago, when NextEra explored the potential for a wind farm in the Germantown area.
Resident Mike Averdick spoke on behalf of those in attendance and asked that items to be studied include setback distance, shadow flicker, sound emissions, lighting, height of turbines and blades, property values, effect on citizen health, as well as livestock, pets and other wildlife.
County Attorney John Estill advised the group the Kentucky Public Service Commission regulates utility companies and said under KRS 100.324, utilities are exempt from local planning and zoning ordinances.
“The law is absolutely clear on that,” said Estill.
After further discussion, County Commissioner Annette Walters made the motion to have an ordinance drafted. The intent of the ordinance is to have something in place outlining the county’s expectations, should Duke Energy, or another utility determine Mason County could be a viable location for a wind turbine farm.
“I want people to know we are looking at this proactively,” said Walters. The motion passed by a unanimous vote and will be addressed at the June meeting.
In other business, the court:
— Learned work on the Dixon Pike bridge will commence when school is out for the summer and will be completed before the start of school in August. The work was delayed until the end of the school year so school buses wouldn’t have to travel an extra 20 miles for route pickups.
— Approved the following appointments: Donna Hatton to Tax Appeals Board; Shelvy Wilson and Norlene Rice to the Mason County Public Library Board; Joe Gantley to the Western Lewis Rectorville Gas and Water District; and Jerry Fields to Western Mason Water District.
The next regular meeting of Mason County Fiscal Court is scheduled for Tuesday, June 11 at 9 a.m.