It’s the same old windy ridges, but a different proposal from a different company.
That was the essential context of a wind energy project shared at the February 20 Town Hall meeting of the Ferndale City Council, when the latest proposal to build wind turbines on the mountain ranges just south of town was presented.
Natalynne DeLapp attended last week’s council meeting to provide an overview of a project proposed by San Diego-based Terra-Gen, Inc., a privately held subsidiary of private equity firm Capital Partners. The presentation to Ferndale’s city council followed public meetings previously held in Fortuna, Eureka and Scotia.
Unlike the wind turbine project proposed by Shell Wind Energy in 2012, Terra-Gen’s proposal would not involve transporting large turbines and other obtrusive equipment through the streets of Ferndale. Instead, once the project clears all the necessary hurdles, Terra-Gen proposes to access its project sites by way of a former logging road just off Highway 101’s Jordan Creek exit. Humboldt Redwood Company in Scotia owns the property where the logging road is located, and also owns the Monument Ridge property where the majority of turbines would be constructed. The remainder of turbines would be placed on Bear River Ridge property owned by Russ Ranches, according to the proposal.
If its proposal is given the green light, Terra-Gen plans on shipping parts and supplies into Fields Landing, just south of Eureka, before trucking it south on Highway 101 to Jordan Creek exit.
In 2012, when Shell WindEnergy presented its project to the City of Ferndale, local residents voiced strong opposition due to the adverse visual impact huge turbines would have on the skyline of Bear River Ridge, in addition to the problems associated with somehow transporting huge pieces of equipment through town and up the Wildcat Road.
At last week’s meeting, DeLapp held up to council members a simulated photo of what the Bear River Ridge turbines would look like from Fernbridge. At just over ten miles away, the turbines are visible from Hwy 211, albeit smaller than the proposed Shell WindEnergy turbines.
“These are legally-defensible visual simulations – this is what someone at 10.6 miles away, with 20/20 vision, would be able to see,” said DeLapp.
At a meeting on the matter held last July at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center in Eureka, Terra-Gen representative Kevin Martin spoke to one of the issues that brought an eventual halt to Shell’s efforts seven years ago.
“We know a lot of people had a bad experience with a previous developer,” said Martin, according to reporting by the Times-Standard. “We want to avoid that.” Nathan Vajdos, Terra-Gen’s Senior Director of Wind Development, partially addressed the visual impact wind towers could be expected to have on the Monument Ridge portion of the project when he spoke at the July meeting in Eureka. “You would have to have X-ray vision to see these turbines from Ferndale,” said Vajdos, again according to reporting by the Times-Standard. “We’ve been working hard to quantify the impacts of this project.”
If approved, the project would include up to 60 turbines designed to generate 155 mega watts of power. Up to 300 construction jobs would be a part of the project, with an estimated 15 permanent jobs being created, according to the proposal. Terra-Gen representatives hope to begin work on the project as soon as possible.
“Their goal is to have the project approved this summer, begin road construction this summer before the rains and after nesting season, and then next spring they would start,” said DeLapp.
In other business, the council approved the city’s financial audit for the 2017-2018 fiscal year (FY). The annual audit was performed for the fourth consecutive year by JJACPA, Inc., a public accounting firm base in the east Bay Area city of Dublin. According to various findings within the audit, total financial activity in the city for fiscal year 2018 increased to $1,938,289, compared to $1,831,430 the previous year. The audit also showed an increase in the city’s general fund of $70,746, reaching $551,338 at the end of the year, with the slight jump attributed to general cost reductions. A chart within the audit report, illustrating changes in the city’s net position between FY’s 2017 and 2018, shows that transient occupancy taxes (TOT) led the way in terms of general revenues created for use by the city.
According to the chart, TOT contributed $173,154 to city coffers. That compares to $164,899 in sales taxes and $150,504 in property taxes and $134,223 in revenue received from motor vehicle taxes.
The council also voted unanimously to appoint Jorgen von Frausing-Borch and Laura Olsen to serve on the Ferndale Planning Commission. In addition, the council approved renewing its auditing contract with JJACPA for another year, as well as a one-year contract with Mitchell, Brisso, Delaney & Vrieze Law Firm to serve the city’s needs, as they relate to legal services.
Meanwhile, on the regulatory front, the council approved the first readings of two proposed ordinances, one of which deals with sidewalks and the other with parking. Ordinance 2019-01, recently adopted by the Ferndale Planning Commission, would amend the city’s zoning ordinance by establishing visual and composition standards for future sidewalk repairs, or replacement in the city.
The intent of the new sidewalk ordinance is to establish regulatory guidelines that would prevent the types of checkerboard sidewalk repairs that occurred with recent projects in Ferndale. Those incidents, as previously discussed by the Planning Commission, include recent Caltrans work done along the State Highway 211/Main Street corridor, along with work completed by the city along Rose Avenue. In each of those cases, replacement sections of sidewalk did not match the color and composition of adjacent historic sections of sidewalk that remained in place.
Draft Ordinance 2019-03 also received a first reading by the council, with the intent to revisit and revise a matter on which the previous administration allocated nearly five months to consider adopting parking limitations throughout the business section of Main Street.
As proposed by the current city council, the time limit for parking along Main Street would be extended from two consecutive hours to three hours, from 6 am—6pm, Monday-Saturday, between Ocean and Shaw Avenues. In addition to setting a time limit during normal business hours, the new draft ordinance would also prohibit parking along the Ocean-to-Shaw corridor from 5 am – 7 am every Tuesday, to allow for street sweeping by city public works. In attendance for the meeting were councilmembers Robin Smith, Patrick O’Rourke and Stephen Avis, along with Mayor Michael Sweeney. Councilmember Jennifer Fisk-Becker was not in attendance.
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