MERRILLVILLE | The Board of Zoning Appeals supports a project that could expand educational opportunities at the ITT Technical Institute campus in Merrillville.
The school is pursuing a variance of use that would allow it to install two wind turbines on its property at 8488 Georgia St. The board unanimously approved the request, which moves to the Town Council for final approval.
The variance is needed because the town’s zoning rules don’t allow wind turbines anywhere in Merrillville, board attorney Bill Touchette said.
Michael Melvin, an ITT Technical Institute representative, said horizontal axis and vertical axis wind turbines would be installed at the start of each school semester.
Students would be involved in the installation and disassembly of the two wind turbines, Melvin said.
The turbines would be left up for a few months for students to collect data from them. They also would be used to charge batteries used to power equipment at the school, Melvin said.
He said students interested in green technology are excited about the opportunities to gain experience with the wind turbines.
The maximum height of the turbines would be 30 feet, Melvin said. The wind turbines can withstand high winds. They also can be disassembled in a few hours if there is an immediate need to take them down.
Board member Robert Bigelow asked if any objects would be within the fall zone of the wind turbines in the event they happen to fall. He said he isn’t indicating the turbines would fall, but he wanted to make sure the school is prepared for such a scenario.
Melvin said there are some parking spots that could be in the fall zone, but the school would make sure those spots wouldn’t be available for parking after the wind turbines are erected. He also indicated the turbines could be installed at shorter heights if necessary.
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