News Obits School/Sports Community Opinion

— 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

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