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Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Village OK with turbines under limits


By Amy Kronenberger
ROCKFORD - Wind turbines could have a future in Rockford - with restrictions.
Council members on Tuesday agreed an ordinance banning turbines would be too drastic, saying the evolving technology may one day be the best option.
"I don't think it would be in our best interest to ban them completely, but we have to look after our neighbors," village administrator Jeff Long said during council's regular meeting. "We shouldn't make the decision are they right or are they wrong. We should just regulate them to protect the community."
Regulations could include sound, height and distance, he said.
Long believes turbines will become smaller and more efficient as the technology evolves. He pointed out that companies now are producing much smaller roof-top turbines that have the capability to produce a quarter of a house's electricity.
He also said turbines may be a good investment for the village, area companies and the school in the future.
BP International has plans to construct a wind farm in southern Van Wert County that would spill into northern Mercer County. Neighbors United, a local group against the development of wind generators in Mercer County, earlier this month asked council to consider an ordinance banning the turbines completely within village limits.
Instead, council agreed to work with residents and the zoning board to come up with regulations for turbines.
Also on Tuesday, council passed a resolution to authorize Long to obtain a loan for $60,000 from People's Holding Company to help pay for the new ultraviolet disinfecting system at the wastewater treatment facility. Ohio EPA is requiring the upgrade by May 1 from the facility's current chlorination system.
Long said he received one bid for $63,000 from Aquionics, Erlanger, Ky., to manufacture and install the ultraviolet system.
"When we only got one bid, I thought I better do some checking," Long said. "I feel we're getting a good cost. We're not being taken to the cleaners or anything."
The village also will be responsible for parts, electrical work and concrete.
"I expect the fittings alone will be $10,000," he said. "By the end, we'll probably be at about $90,000."
Long also plans to use $30,000 set aside in the wastewater fund. The $60,000 loan's interest rate will be set at 3 percent and is renewable annually. Long said the loan should be paid off in two years by using existing water revenues.
Council member Steve Gehle asked about the ultraviolet bulb's life expectancy. Long said the bulbs are expected to last one year but the village will only operate them at 45 percent power so he's hoping to get two years out of them.
The bulbs cost $2,600 each, which equals about the same price as chlorine, Long said. However, chlorine prices keep going up, and Long expects the price of the bulbs to continue to drop as technology improves.
Council gave first reading to an ordinance levying assessments for the cost incurred for removing waste at a residence. The resident would not comply with the village's junk ordinance so the village paid to have the property cleaned.
The $350 cost now will be assessed on the resident's taxes.
Council also passed a resolution approving the final 2013 budget as certified by county auditor Randy Grapner.
General fund appropriations are set at $356,742 with revenues estimated at $348,650. The fund's $30,000 carryover will cover the deficit.
The village's water and sewer funds predict expenditures to be $334,425 and $315,355, respectively. Revenues are estimated at $300,100 and $306,750. Carryovers of about $75,000 for each fund will cover the shortfalls.
The finance committee will begin meeting at 7:15 p.m. prior to every council meeting to review bills paid. They also will begin meeting quarterly with village department heads to review where the village's overall budget stands and listen to any recommendations.
The economic development committee will meet at 6:45 p.m. March 19. The regular council meeting will follow at 7:30 p.m.
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