A year after a grassroots organization vowed to fight all wind turbine construction east of Okarche, and a few months after the Piedmont city council threatened to file a lawsuit against the wind energy company proposing a wind farm west of town, a new agreement paves the way for turbines to be constructed west and north of Piedmont.
During a special session on Monday night, the city council voted to approve an agreement with Apex Clean Energy, with the blessing of the Central Oklahoma Property Rights Association, a group that had been fighting the proposed wind farm project.
The agreement states that turbines will not be constructed within a “no turbine area” that stretches primarily west of Piedmont to Manning Rd. The agreement also states that turbines will not be larger than 499 feet from “the ground to the highest tip of the turbine blade” and that the turbines won’t be built within 1,500 feet of a non-participating landowner.
The restricted area keeps turbines away from some of Piedmont’s western neighborhoods, but allows construction up to the city limits along the northern edge of the city. Turbines are not allowed inside city limits.
Additionally, Apex will pay the city $20,000 in a one-time payment for “costs incurred and owed to date in connection with this agreement.”
Three councilmen – Bobby Williamson, Charles Coffman and Robert Simpson – voted in favor of the agreement while councilman Al Gleichmann voted against it. Councilman Donnie Robinson was not present for the meeting.
“Six months ago, the map from Apex had wind turbines located in unincorporated areas within our boundaries, and there were 50 more of them than there are now,” Williamson said near the conclusion of the special meeting, which drew a crowd of about 20 people. “Everybody from our City Manager to our Mayor to our constituents – it’s been a coalition effort and I consider it a substantial victory. Do we wish we had more? Of course. But I don’t know anywhere where a city has gone up against an industrial wind turbine developer and successfully pushed them back miles.”
As part of the agreement, the council also voted to repeal an ordinance it passed a few months ago that attempted to outlaw all turbines within three miles of the city limits. That ordinance drew a lawsuit from residents in Kingfisher County and officials with Apex and the city believe it will be dropped following Monday’s new vote.
City Manager Jim Crosby said the new agreement also means the city will “not interfere with anything they do outside that [prohibited area].”
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