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Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Groundbreaking law prohibits wind turbines

By Shelley Grieshop
ST. HENRY - Council members made history Monday night by passing unique legislation that bans wind turbines in town.
The new law, which unanimously passed third reading, prohibits the construction of all types of wind turbines, wind chargers and wind generators. It also outlaws any device, apparatus or structure used to convert kinetic energy from wind to produce electricity.
State officials previously told The Daily Standard no ordinance of this kind has been passed by any municipality in the state of Ohio.
Council members have said they may consider exceptions to the law on a case-by-case basis. However, village administrator Ron Gelhaus said the legislation has a purpose.
"It's there to protect the people of the village," he said.
Council members said the new law was discussed months before Cooper Farms, which has a plant in St. Henry, announced in February the construction of two 1.5-megawatt wind turbines at its Van Wert facility. Company officials had said they would consider placing turbines at other plant sites if the initial pair are deemed successful.
Eric Ludwig, director of corporate development at Cooper Farms in Van Wert, today said the company had "no official plans" to put a turbine at the St. Henry plant, but it was a future possibility.
When asked about the new legislation in the village, Ludwig said, "it would be nice to have guidelines instead of restrictions."
Gelhaus said he told plant officials the new law did not specifically target them.
Two years ago, wind energy company NextEra proposed building a large wind turbine farm in the southern portion of Mercer County. By the spring of 2011, the project was nixed due to overwhelming objection from area residents.
Council members on Monday again discussed the possibility of constructing a new swimming pool but took no action. Input on raising the necessary funds is being sought. Income and property tax levies are being considered.
"Our first step is a feasibility study," Gelhaus said. "We need to find out if we have public support."
In other business, police chief Bob Garman is seeking route maps two weeks in advance for all 5K run/walks planned in the village. The purpose is to ensure participants' safety and to maintain adequate traffic routes.
At least seven 5K events are planned within the village this year.
Council members also handled the following issues:
• Learned branch pickup begins Monday and continues on the first business day of every month through fall.
• Learned electric and plumbing work is complete at the new amphitheater in South Park. Officials hope to have the building inspected by mid-April so restrooms can be opened. The structure will be toured by council members prior to the next meeting April 9.
In related news, Gelhaus is seeking quotes for signage to be posted near Boeckman Drive and state Route 118. The signs will advertise various events at South Park and in the village.
• Heard second reading of an ordinance setting compensation for pool and park employees and establishing various fees. Among the changes are a 25 cents per hour salary increase for lifeguards; first-year lifeguards will net $5.50 per hour.
The new pool manager, Kurt Huelsman, will be paid $4,000 this year, per the proposed ordinance. Other changes include an increase of $25 to rent shelter houses number 1, 2 and 4, at a cost of $100, $75 and $150, respectively. A new fee of $25 was created to rent the park gazebo or amphitheater. Other fees are being reduced to encourage the rental of ball diamonds.
• Passed an ordinance to renew a contract with Dayton Power & Light for electrical service.
• Heard first reading on an ordinance to contract with the county for annual ambulance service. The cost is the same as last year, $6,067.50 and cannot exceed $7,814.94.
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Workers at the St. Marys State Fish Hatchery are collecting and fertilizing fish eggs. Some already have hatched. [More]
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