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Urbana won’t challenge portion of turbine project

Buckeye Wind withdrew a plan that prompted a challenge from city.

Attorneys for the city of Urbana said they no longer will contest Buckeye Wind’s plans to amend portions of their certificate, after the company recently withdrew a proposal to move a staging area close to a pending sewer line extension.

Buckeye Wind wants to build nearly 100 turbines in eastern Champaign County. It had initially proposed moving a construction staging area from the intersection of Ohio 814 and U.S. 36 to the intersection of U.S. 36 and Three-Mile Road. The city contested those plans because of fears it could interfere with a separate city agreement to extend a sanitary sewer line to Robert Rothschild Farm.

However, the company said earlier this month it no longer believes that staging area is necessary. A hearing to discuss the wind company’s proposed changes is still scheduled in Columbus on Jan. 6. But attorneys for Urbana said they no longer have any issues to address now that the wind company has pulled plans to relocate that staging area. Jason Dagger, a spokesman for the wind company, said Buckeye believes two other staging areas that have already been approved will be adequate.

The wind company is still asking to amend other portions of its original certificate, but those issues will not be contested by the city.

“The city will not be filing witness testimony, as the city has no opinion on the proposed amendments to permit burial of electrical lines on privately leased land, or to shift a substation location within the same parcel,” the city’s response states.

However , the city also notes it had to modify the design of the sewer project in case the staging area did move forward. That created additional expenses for Urbana, said Breanne Parcels, Urbana’s law director.

Earlier this year, Urbana, Champaign County and Robert Rothschild Farm agreed on a roughly $787,000 investment to extend a sewer line to the business, allowing the company to expand and create as many as 25 new full-time jobs.

Attorneys for both Champaign County and Urbana said they still plan to attend the Jan. 6 hearing to monitor the proposed amendments, but they do not plan to provide testimony in the case.

In its response, the city also notes it would have raised additional concerns if the wind company had not withdrawn its proposal.

“Furthermore, prior to the withdrawal of Buckeye Wind’s request, the city planned to present testimony to establish that Buckeye Wind never had a lease, easement or license to use the property located at State Route 814 and U.S. Route 36 for a staging area, even though the applicant represented it had such permission to the board in its initial application in 2009,” the city’s response states.

Parcels said Everpower had told the Ohio Power Siting Board it has permission to use land at U.S. 36 and Ohio 814 for a staging area and wanted to move it to U.S. 36 and Three-Mile Road.

But Bob and Barbara Behling, local property owners, had sent a recent letter to the siting board to point out they own a parcel of land at U.S. 36 and Ohio 814 and decided not to enter a contract with Buckeye.

“Everpower does not and has never had a signed lease for a staging area at Route 36 and Route 814,” the letter from the Behlings states. “Botton line: Although Everpower is asking the OPSB to approve the re-location of that staging area, in reality they want approval to establish a new staging area.”

Dagger said the company was in negotiations to use the property when the siting board approved the staging area, but those negotiations later fell through. The company could consider the site at U.S. 36 and Three-Mile Road again in the future, Dagger said, although it is unlikely.

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