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Curtiss gets lease offer from wind farm

A renewable energy company trying to establish a wind farm in northeast Clark County has approached the village of Curtiss about leasing land that could possibly be used for a transmission line.

John Barenz of RWE Renewable Energy attended a village board meeting last week to talk to village officials about the possible financial benefits of leasing roughly 170 acres of land to the company.

RWE is not able to place a wind turbine in the village because, by law, all turbines must be at least 1,250 feet (a quarter-mile) away from any residences. However, the company is still interested in leasing some vacant land on the village’s west side that may be used to install an underground collection cable.

The company would offer the village an initial signing bonus of just over $5,000, and during the years when the wind farm is being developed, that amount would grow to about $12,000.

While wind turbines and other infrastructure are being constructed, which is estimated to take about two years, the village would get another $3,500, according to an estimate of compensation prepared by the company.

Once the wind farm is in operation, five to seven years from now, the village would start to get base payments that would total close to $249,000 over 30 years.

Barenz provided village officials with a copy of the lease agreement to look over and have reviewed by the village attorney. He said most of the terms would not apply to the village because there’s no potential for a turbine to be established on village land.

The collection cable, buried between 48 and 60 inches deep, would help connect turbines spread across private land in northeast Clark County. The cables normally follow roads so as not to disrupt any existing agricultural activity, he said.

Barenz could not say for sure if the village’s land would be needed for a collection cable or not, though he said a lease offer is still on the table.

“So, this would just be to participate in the whole wind farm project,” he said. “In other words, by your participation with acreage in there, they would compensate you for participating.” The wind farm, located in the towns of Hoard and Mayville, will have between 35 and 40 turbines, Barenz said. About 7,000 acres of private land have been signed up so far, he noted.

“We’re only going to have one station, and it’s probably going to be south of Abbotsford,” Barenz said.

Trustee Jon Unruh wanted to know more about what the village land would be used for before committing to signing a lease agreement.

“There’s never money given without strings attached, and I want to know what strings are going to get pulled on us,” he said. “It may be a little string, but for the good of the village, we have to know what we’re signing up for before we sign up for anything.”

Barenz, however, said RWE is likely not to be looking for a major commitment from the village.

“I would say, like all energy companies, there are times when they give away money. Period,” he said.

Barenz told board members to come up with some questions for him to answer, and he would return for the board’s Dec. 7 meeting.

Other business

_ Village resident Ron Kudinger, who grades and plows village streets, told the board that he was quitting because his hours are being given away to volunteers doing the work instead. He said he only logged a little over eight hours in the past month.

“You can take this job and shove it,” he said. “You can find somebody else to grade your roads and plow your snow.”

Village officials tried to talk him into reconsidering, but he left the meeting, so they talked about running an advertisement for a new plow truck and grader operator.

“We definitely appreciate the work you’ve done for us,” Unruh told Kudinger.

_ Jane Stoiber said the Curtiss Lions will be making a new aluminum sign for the Curtiss Community Center, at no cost to the village.

_ Unruh and village president Betty Rettig talked about appointing resident Sheila Tomas to fill a vacancy on the board. She has previously expressed an interest in taking the position and said she could be a connection to the local Hispanic community.

“I think she would do a good job,” Rettig said.

_ DPW Larry Swarr told the board that the owner of Midwest Sidewalls has purchased the old Curtiss Metal building on the south side of the village and is interested in turning it into an equipment dealership. As part of redeveloping the property, the owner would like to replace the sewer line, which may involve some cost on the village’s end.

_ Swarr told the board that the village is planning to provide options for a wastewater treatment plant upgrade to Abbyland Foods by Nov. 15. Trustee Unruh said he’s leaning toward one of the options pitched by CBS Squared, which would cost a little over $3 million and accomplish the same level of treatment as a previous $20 million proposal from MSA Professional Services.

The board approved a $4,000 work order for CBS Squared to clarify its options for the new plant and a $1,000 work order for MSA to come up with funding scenarios for the plant project.

_ The board was told that the organizers of next year’s Farm Tech Days in Clark County are looking for volunteers and are also selling personalized benches for $300 that would be used during the event and then given to the buyer after it was done. No action was taken.

_ Swarr told the board about the problem of driverscuttingthecornertooclose at the intersection of Front and Walnut streets near the park. He said there are already posts there, but they don’t stop motorists from leaving the roadway and driving on the grass. The board decided not to take any action at this point.

_ The board voted to pay D& S Milling $5 for small concrete blocks and $10 for larger ones to be used to separate brush and other waste at the village’s waste pile.

_ The board voted to amend its ordinance on mobile homes, allowing them to be placed on a concrete slab instead of just on a finished basement, as previously stated in the ordinance.

_ The board discussed a $1,600 bill from MSA Professional Services that included eight hours or work time not authorized by the village. Village clerk Carol Devine was directed not to pay the bill until the company could provide an explanation for the work.