Wind turbine studied by Middleburg - Plan for wind turbine at fairgrounds causes concern

Submitted by Charles Frost on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 20:36.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
By Dustin Brady dbrady [at] sunnews [dot] com
The News Sun

MIDDLEBURG HTS.-- A proposed wind turbine at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds faces one more hurdle before it can be approved by the city. After being approved unanimously by both the Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission, the turbine is now before City Council.

 Councilmen Matt Castelli and Jim Shepherd expect council to take a few meetings before making a final decision. They want to make sure all questions are answered before putting the city's final stamp of approval on the project.

Castelli said that one of the questions he has is how the turbine will affect property values. "I don't believe it does, but I don't really have an answer to that question. The fair board needs to bring that kind of information to council and tell us what happened in other communities that have turbines."

Castelli's concerns were echoed by residents at the Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission meetings. Both meetings were packed with residents.

Patrick Cahill, an Isaac Drive resident, came to the Zoning Appeals meeting concerned that his property might lose value because he heard that turbines were very loud. Other residents asked if they would see the turbine from their homes and if emergency hospital helicopters would be able to navigate around the 250-foot-high structure.

Nick Willis, adviser to the fair board from the Cuyahoga County Commissioners office, eased many residents' concerns. He said that residents in the nursing home on Old Oak Boulevard. would basically be the only ones who could see the turbine.

He also said that, while residents might notice some noise, it would be something they could easily tune out. "It's something you might detect like you'd detect a refrigerator in your home," he said.

Finally, Willis said that the fair board got approval from the FAA for the tower. The hospital helicopter pilots also said that there would not be a problem.

Castelli said that, even though residents do have some concerns, most are excited about the turbine. "There has been a lot of positive feedback coming from residents in that area," he said. "A lot of people are interested in sustainability and renewable energy."

Regardless of residents' views on the turbine, they can expect to wait a while before seeing it. Because the fair board started doing a one-year wind study in June, the turbine could not go up until next summer at the earliest.

The fair board must also raise $1.2 million to start construction. They optimistically expect to reach that total in summer of 2010. Since the variance granted for the turbine only lasts a year, the city will probably have to go through the whole approval process again next year.



Monday, September 08, 2008
Grant Segall
Plain Dealer Reporter

Middleburg Heights- High above the Ferris wheel, a wind turbine may someday help to power the Cuyahoga County Fair.

But a local mayor is worried about the turbine, with its 200-foot-tall tower and its blades rising another 50 feet.

"It's going to be located next to a nursing home, a hospital and highly concentrated residential areas," said Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr, who governs the part of the fairgrounds where the turbine would stand. "You have to wait and see how the public will react. You'll be able to see this 250-foot wind turbine for miles around."

The fair board has asked the city for a zoning variance, which such a tall structure would need. Starr expects the city Planning Commission to consider the variance in October.

Last month, the board raised a 164-foot-tall pole holding an instrument called an anemometer to test the wind for a year. So far, said board President David Stephan, the wind seems strong enough to make the turbine worthwhile.

Stephan thinks the 225-kilowatt turbine may cost a little more than $1 million but would pay off by generating most of the fairgrounds' electricity and educating fairgoers about energy.

The board pays about $100,000 for power annually, and the bills always seem to rise.

The fair board received $40,000 from Green Energy Ohio for the anemometer. Stephan hopes for similar grants to cover the turbine.

Because of widespread guy wires, the anemometer could stand only on the Berea side of the fairgrounds, in the middle of the racetrack.

The turbine would rise in the main parking lot off Bagley Road.

But Stephan said the winds should be similar on both sides. So far, he's heard no complaints about the device.

Al Madison, vice president of marketing for the nearby Southwest General Health Center, said, "We are supportive of green activity."

Officials at the nearby Century Oak Care Center could not be reached for comment.

Turbines are spreading across Greater Cleveland. They already stand at the Great Lakes Science Center and at Lake Farmpark.

A public commission is looking at raising five to 10 off Cleveland's shore.

A developer is seeking permission for turbines in Ashtabula. Kenston High School plans to raise one soon, and Perry High School has raised an anemometer to test the idea.

Cleveland has plenty of wind to harness: Average winds are 10.5 mph at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, compared with 10.3 mph at O'Hare International in Chicago, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

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