CORPUS CHRISTI –
Plans to install utilities in the Chapman Ranch area are on hold, after a recent, major decision from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Rejecting a city appeal, the administration says a planned wind farm just outside that recently annexed part of the city is okay. In its letter to the city, the FAA says the city’s appeal “… failed to provide new facts or information” that would change the administration’s mind.
Now, the city waits for the Navy’s own study, due in October.
As we’ve reported, the Navy is concerned about possible radar interference from those 86 wind turbines, which could make it hard or impossible to train pilots in the area. Naval Air Station Corpus Christi and Kingsville fear both bases would get shut down in a future round of base realignment and closures if that happens.
In large part, the annexation was an attempt to drive out the wind farm, and protect our local naval industry.
“I want to protect our military and the thousands of jobs (locally related to it). Two of our biggest employers in Corpus Christi are directly related to air traffic, air safety,” Councilwoman Colleen McIntyre says.
In the meantime, the city council has $14 million worth of utility projects for the annexed area on hold, since as of now, nothing can stop the wind farm from being constructed.
“This is a lot of money we’re going to spend for something that no one’s out there. So, it makes me wonder why would we do this unless we have developers wanting to develop out there?” Councilwoman Carolyn Vaughn says.
While they approved a budget for other major projects today, the council has months to un-freeze the pending utilities. It’s unclear if that money will be budgeted for something else in the interim.
“Just approval of this doesn’t allow us to go award any construction or design contracts related to these,” Assistant City Manager Mark Van Vleck says.
Now, a number of Chapman Ranch landowners are asking the city to dis-annex the area.
Meanwhile, APEX Clean Energy, the company behind the wind farm, is moving forward with the project. At this time, they don’t have a start date for construction.
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