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6 Investigates: Windfarm controversy could mean more Southside annexation  

Credit:  KRIS 6 | June 20, 2016 | www.kristv.com ~~

Some city leaders are talking about a second round of annexation to put pressure on a controversial windfarm project in the Chapman Ranch area.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently approved permits for 144 wind turbines just south of the Corpus Christi city limits. The wind energy company, Apex Clean Energy, plans to move ahead with construction. That has prompted some area leaders to file protest letters with the federal government and consider annexation to the Petronilla area.

A move to extend the city limits line another 5 miles would require the city to build basic city services within five years, which is a costly proposal. Those services include water lines, sewer, streets, police and fire response. The infrastructure would cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

The city doesn’t have much of a choice, said Mark Scott, At-Large City Councilman.

“It’s a terrible way to manage the growth of your community, but again there’s no way to regulate the impact– enormous impact, of projects like the windfarm,” Scott said.

Annexation of the new windfarm location would require the company to pay city taxes, Scott said, which could deter the project from moving ahead.

It’s not the first questionable policy decision.

In 2014, the city annexed 10,000 acres of the city’s Southside area. That decision will cost $20 million dollars to build basic city services to the area. In response, the company moved the proposed windfarm just outside the new city limits line. This is the location recently approved by the federal government.

Windfarms are not the problem, local leaders said. In this instance, it’s the location and height of them. Wind turbines can tower 500 feet into the air, and the turbines may cause interference with area flight patterns. The tallest building in Corpus Christi is One Shoreline Plaza, standing at 411 feet or 28 stories.

The U.S. Navy has a study underway to determine how wind turbines will affect area flight training, according to a letter city officials filed in protest of the FAA’s recent determination.

The Department of Defense and Navy already have determined the windfarm will not adversely affect operations, said Dahvi Wilson, a company spokeswoman for Apex Clean Energy.

“…We have trouble believing that the concerns some continue to express around this issue amount to anything more than fearing mongering,” Wilson said.

Area leaders say a windfarm near the city limits could damage our local economy. The flight schools at Corpus Christi and Kingsville naval air stations rely on open air space to be effective. Those naval bases make up 25 percent of the local economy.

Nueces County Commissioner Mike Pusley has asked the FAA to reconsider its decision and wait until the U.S. Navy study is completed later this year.

“They want to forge ahead with this thing without having the study completed and without having all the things done that need to be done to prove to this community and to the military bases that they’re not going to impact their business,” Pusley said.

Source:  KRIS 6 | June 20, 2016 | www.kristv.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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