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Marion Township’s trustees block wind turbines

By LOU WILIN
STAFF WRITER

A bid to get vacant land southeast of the intersection of Crystal and Bigelow avenues rezoned for wind turbines and industrial development was rejected Thursday night by the Marion Township trustees.

But after the vote, Jereme Kent, chief executive officer of wind turbine builder One Energy, predicted one or two 400-foot wind turbines still will be built, as well as industrial development nearby.

“We fully expect this project will still happen and are evaluating all the alternate paths forward,” Kent said.

Among the possible paths: Seeking a zoning variance from the Marion Township zoning appeals board, or something else, he said.

“There are several options, and I will be good and let my lawyers make sure I am saying all of them right, what really are paths forward,” Kent said. “Whether it ends up in the city (through annexation of the site by Findlay) or goes to the city beforehand, whether we still go to the board of zoning appeals, there are several other paths forward.”

Several Crystal Avenue residents expressed concerns Thursday about wind turbines being an eyesore, lowering their property values, and flickering shadows into their homes.

But the most frequently cited concern among residents and trustees alike was the seeming likelihood that at least some of the 36-acre tract would be annexed to Findlay.

During the meeting, Kent said One Energy did not plan to pursue annexation of the 16 acres it would use to build one or two wind turbines.

However, the other 20 acres would be marketed for industries by Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development. Those 20 acres could be annexed to Findlay, and that sparked opposition for varying reasons.

The township trustees expressed displeasure with portions of their township being gobbled up by Findlay annexations in recent decades.

Trustee Jim Gosche said he feared the proposed zoning change to light or restricted industrial would about guarantee annexation of the site.

“It’s just more land we’re losing, and I’m opposed to that,” he said.

Annexation of just part of the tract southeast of the Crystal-Bigelow intersection could potentially leave the trustees another familiar annoyance: an island of Marion Township territory surrounded by Findlay.

Gosche also questioned the lobbying for industrial zoning by Tim Mayle, director of Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development. The 36 acres is now zoned for residential use.

“I guess I’m confused. The last six months I’ve read a tremendous amount of articles from the mayor (of Findlay), the (Hancock County) commissioners, economic development about how we need affordable housing. We have a site that’s zoned R-2 (residential) right now,” Gosche said. “It’s basically shovel-ready. Now all of a sudden, we want to get rid of it. I don’t understand the back-and-forth all the time.”

Residents said they also feared annexation to Findlay, but for somewhat different reasons.

John Thomas, of 2730 Crystal Ave., said he fears annexation could bring subsidized, low-income housing across the street from him. He looked to the trustees for a response.

Gosche answered him: “We have no control once it’s annexed.”

Thomas was dismayed.

“Once it’s annexed, we’re screwed,” he said.

“We don’t need this. We need residential housing,” Thomas said. “We don’t need more low-income apartments for the low-income jobs that are coming to the city of Findlay.”

“We’re homeowners. We try and make a decent living, and we want to keep it that way,” Thomas said.

Wilin: 419-427-8413
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