By RON CRAIG
If there was any doubt about where Seneca County Commissioner Shayne Thomas stood on a movement to rescind an Alternative Energy Zone and thus thwart the erection of wind turbines on the east side of the county, such doubt was erased Tuesday.
During a weekly meeting of the commissioners, Thomas took the wind out of the sails of those seeking the AEZ rescission.
“This issue has shown much divisiveness, and I empathize with those who don’t want to look at (the wind turbines),” Thomas said. “I have seen people with watery eyes come to us asking us to rescind the AEZ. It’s been a challenge for us.”
After uttering those sympathetic words, Thomas soon made it clear he is against rescinding the AEZ.
“Local property owners have the right to develop their own properties. If we have reasonable setbacks, there is middle ground here, and we should seek that middle ground.”
That remark dashed the hopes of the “anti-wind” constituents who were hoping they could get Thomas to change his mind, as did Mike Kerschner, president of the board of commissioners, last week.
Setbacks are legal distances in which wind turbines can be erected in relation to other properties. The higher the setback, the greater the distance must be for erection of a turbine from a neighboring property.
Thomas also made a point that has heretofore not been mentioned. He said even if the commissioners voted to rescind the AEZ now, it would have absolutely no effect on the two projects that have already been approved through the establishment of the AEZ in 2011.
Those two projects already call for several turbines to be placed between Republic and Bellevue.
“Any action we would take would not affect those two (projects). Any others would not have that same footing,” Thomas said, referring to future turbine projects.
At the end of his remarks, Thomas calmly summed it all up.
“I want to make sure the record is clear about my stand on this issue.”
That didn’t stop the anti-wind attendees from speaking their minds, however.
There were those still airing their feelings as the meeting passed the hour-and-a-half mark, but no new points were made.
Last week, Kerschner told an overflowing crowd attending that commissioners’ meeting he had changed his mind and would now be their voice in the anti-wind movement. Commissioner Holly Stacy, on the other hand, said she was sticking by her decision not to rescind the AEZ.
Thomas was vacationing in Europe and missed last week’s meeting, giving those opposed to the turbines hope they could also convince him to reverse course.
The AEZ rescission issue now appears to be dead in the water.
In other business, commissioners approved a contact with the city of Fostoria for the establishment of a countywide Wireless Emergency Notification System.
The system will alert local residents of storm threats, disaster situations, and traffic problems via text, cellphone and email messages.
Commissioners had approved a similar contract with the city of Tiffin recently.
Ken Majors, Seneca County Emergency Services director, told the Review Times earlier this week he hopes to have the new system operational by July 1, even thought it will take some time to get people signed up for it.
There will be no charge to residents for the service because the county, the city of Fostoria, and the city of Tiffin are each paying one-third of the annual cost of the system.
Two bids were received for the New Riegel sidewalk renovation project. The lower bid of $93,500 came from Quinn Concrete and Construction of Toledo, and DL Smith Concrete, Norwalk, placed a bid of $99,346.50.
An engineer’s office estimate for the project came in at $100,000 and the two bids will now be reviewed by Seneca Regional Planning Commission. SRPC is overseeing the Community Development Block Grant that is paying for the sidewalk work.
About 45 minutes of Tuesday’s meeting was taken up by an executive session to discuss a personnel matter.
Majors joined the commissioners in the executive session to discuss hiring a full-time paramedic for the county’s ECHO unit to replace Steve Hoover, who resigned effective June 2.
Several supplemental appropriations and fund transfers were also approved by the commissioners Tuesday.