CORPUS CHRISTI – The City Council took its first steps Tuesday in publicly opposing a proposed wind farm that officials say would stymie Corpus Christi’s sprawling Southside growth.
Because it was listed as a future agenda item, the council did not take a vote on a draft resolution opposing the development of a wind farm that would have about 175 turbines constructed on a 20,000-acre private property near Chapman Ranch, south of Farm-to-Market Road 2444 and South Staples Street, much of it west of State Highway 286.
Some of the council members had strong words about the potentially disabling effects they believe the wind farm would have on the city’s commercial and residential development.
“I think the fundamental impetus is that the only place we can grow is through our extraterritorial jurisdiction,” Mayor Nelda Martinez said.
Tom Tagliabue, who heads the city’s intergovernmental relations, said that there are no local, state or federal agencies that have statutory authority to regulate the size or density of wind farm developments and that the resolution serves only to put the council’s opposition on record.
Although the original draft resolution referred to wind farms in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, council members later asked Tagliabue to specify the project near Chapman Ranch in the document, including City Councilman Mark Scott, who said he didn’t consider the conversation about wind farms in the city’s ETJ, but rather the specific project discussed Tuesday.
A development by Apex Green Energy, the site is expected to have a capacity of 350 megawatts, or enough energy to power 100,000 homes, said Karlis Povisils, a spokesman for the company.
In an email to the Caller-Times, Povisils wrote that the specific location was desirable for a number of reasons.
“The wind speeds are robust and unlike West Texas, the winds along the Gulf Coast blow during peak energy demand (afternoon, summertime),” he wrote. “In addition, the flat terrain, proximity to the Gulf and the comparatively benign environmental impact make this a more attractive site than others along the Texas Gulf Coast.”
It does not currently require special permits, Povisils wrote, but the company intends to submit building plans to Nueces County before construction.
Council members brought up a number of additional concerns in the discussion: City Councilman David Loeb feared the development potentially could be cited as a detriment for the city’s military bases and air fields, while City Councilwoman Lillian Riojas said she wanted to see what she described as subjective language removed from the resolution, such as claims that land near wind turbines loses value.
City Councilwoman Colleen McIntyre raised concerns about signing off on a resolution trying to control the industries that develop in all of the city’s ETJ, and argued that a resolution wasn’t the right tool to address it.
Loeb suggested the city pursue creating provisions in an annexation plan that would require anyone constructing anything as large as the proposed wind farm within the city’s ETJ to be annexed by the city and comply with certain ordinances, and council members also asked that language be added referencing the planning documents that Boston-based firm Goody-Clancy is contracted to prepare, and to include wording about protecting the mission of the military and its air training.
City Councilman Rudy Garza, who represents the Southside, said he was open to narrowing the language of the resolution.
“We can change the wording, we can change the way we’re specifying our reasoning for adopting the resolution against a wind farm in that area,” Garza said about some of the suggested changes. “But I think we need to do something to at least indicate that we’re not in favor of developing a wind farm there at this time.”
City Councilman Chad Magill attended the meeting Tuesday but abstained from the discussion. He was concerned that his employer, Stewart Title, is a specialist in wind title policies and may at some point be involved in a project within the city’s ETJ, according to an email he sent the city secretary.
The item is expected to return to the council for a formal vote next week with specific amendments the council members suggested.
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