DECATUR City council
members voted at Monday's
meeting to hand over the plan
ning authority for a new wind
energy project south of Decatur
to Benton County.
Winds of Change Leasehold
ing, LLC, held a ribbon cutting
on Monday for a new wind-en
ergy project on Browning Road
south of Decatur. The company
placed a SODAR device, a type
of sonar that tracks wind veloc
ity and direction, in the area as
part of a feasibility study and is
eventually hoping to build eight
to 12 wind turbines.
In an e-mail to city adminis
trative assistant Kim Beggs,
Benton County planning and
development coordinator Karen
Stewart stated the new project isin the county but within Decatur's planning jurisdiction.
That would mean any regulations Decatur has on the height of a tower or the size of the footprint would effect the project.
So far, Decatur doesn't have any ordinances regulating either item.
Alderman Trip Lapham, chairman of the planning and zoning committee, attended the ribbon cutting with Beggs.
Lapham said he learned at the ribbon cutting that the ridge along Browning Road is the windiest area in the state, and the wind blows year-round.
Lapham said he spoke with Stewart, and she ask him if Decatur would like to have planning authority over the project or if the city would like to turn the authority over the county.
"It's very interesting, but Idon't think it's anything we want to mess with as a city," Lapham said.
Councilwoman Linda Martin asked if the city would lose anything financially if it handed the project over to Benton County, or if Gentry would end up with planning authority if Decatur relinquished its control.
City attorney Tom Smith answered both questions with a no.
"It wouldn't effect any benefit we would get," Lapham said.
"I feel like right now, with this being as new as it is, we should let the county take it over," Mayor Bill Montgomery said.
Martin suggested the council should think about setting up regulations for towers in the future, since Decatur seems to be developing and growing rapidly.
News, Pages 2 on 08/12/2009