Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
By Amy Kronenberger
Advocacy group wants Rockford to ban turbines
  ROCKFORD - A northern Mercer County group is trying to stop the development of wind turbines in the area.
Roy Thompson, chairman of the newly-formed group Neighbors United, asked Rockford Village Council members during a meeting Tuesday to consider passing a turbine ban ordinance for the village. Council members made no comments on the request; the village administrator asked that another meeting be held to discuss the issue.
The turbines would be an extension of the proposed Long Prairie Wind Farm in Van Wert County. Roger Brown, business developer for the proposed farm, spoke to Mercer County Commissioners in December about the endeavor. The project presently involves the construction of a 200-megawatt wind farm - approximately 67 turbines - south of the city of Van Wert.
Brown, who oversees the midwest region for BP Wind Energy, said as many as five turbines would be constructed in Mercer County.
"BP International came to county commissioners last year for payment in lieu of taxes," Thompson said. "They've secured land, so once commissioners approve, they'll be able to move forward."
Neighbors United, which consists of members from Rockford, Mendon and Willshire, in January sent a letter to county commissioners asking them to reject the proposal.
Commissioner Jerry Laffin this morning said they would not accept the proposal unless they entered into negotiations with the company. They also would not make any final decisions without first discussing the matter with those affected.
"It's not going to be something decided right off the bat," he said. "We would talk to the school board and community members like we did in the south. We'd go over the taxes and what would happen and work with the community to decide what's best."
Neighbors United now hopes to secure a ban on turbines within corporation limits of all the northern communities. Thompson said a sample ordinance was modeled after the no wind generator ordinance passed in St. Henry last year.
Village administrator Jeff Long recommended council's service committee meet with representatives on both sides and educate themselves on the issue before making a recommendation to council.
Neighbors United meets next at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the village hall. Council members will attend the meeting and the service committee will meet immediately following.
Also at Monday's council meeting, Long said he will open bids for the new ultraviolet disinfecting system at the wastewater treatment plant at 1 p.m. today.
The Ohio EPA is requiring the upgrade from the facility's current chlorination system, saying work had to be completed by May 1.
"We chlorinate the water to kill the contaminants, but we can't have but a certain amount of chlorine that gets into the river," Long had said. "To get the kill, our chlorine levels are too high at the river. So now we're going to switch over to a UV system and kill it with the light."
Long estimates the project to cost about $90,000 and doesn't expect to need a water rate increase to pay for the work.
Village workers also used the cold weather as an opportunity to repaint areas in the 25-year-old wastewater building and install new, energy efficient lighting, Long said. The EPA is requiring more thorough renovations to the outdated facility but said the village could wait until 2017 when the existing debt for recent infrastructure upgrades is paid off.
Police chief Paul May addressed council about a resident who has not cooperated in cleaning his property. The village provided a dumpster from Maharg Trash Service, Celina. The resident filled it but has done nothing more. The resident was responsible for paying for the dumpster.
May said Maharg either needs paid or they will empty the trash back on the lawn.
Council agreed to pay Maharg's $250 fee and put a lien on the property.
In other action, the board,
• learned the splash pad will receive an upgrade with a pergola and metal decorative butterflies to hang on the fence.
• learned Wright State University-Lake Campus has a program that could help the Rockford Area Development Corporation attract businesses to the area.
• learned the new Dollar General address will be 401 W. Bridge St. Construction on the building is expected to begin soon.
• scheduled a finance committee meeting for 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the village hall.
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