Wind turbines approved for most of city, but not The District

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | 1:32 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Small windmills and turbines can be used in residential, office and commercial zoning districts — anywhere but The District.

The City Council passed an ordinance on Oct. 17 approving the use of these, which convert wind energy into electricity. People can use the windmills and turbines in their backyards to generate more sustainable energy, but the ordinance does not let people build wind farms or large scale wind convertors.

The application process for getting a Wind Energy Conversion System permit requires a little more paperwork and legwork than does a standard application for a building permit or planning request, according to the provisions of the ordinance.

City staff started researching wind turbines on private properties for the City Council in June 2010, when a dentist wanted to install a turbine on his practice off of Providence Road. The city code lacked a category for wind energy conversion systems.

After the draft of the code change was reviewed and revised by the city and two commissions, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended during a Sept. 22 hearing that the City Council give final approval to the ordinance.

The Energy and Environment Commission raised concerns that residents downtown could not have wind turbines. In a Sept. 27 letter to the mayor and council, the Commission Chairman and former councilman, Karl Skala, said the city should not discriminate against downtown landowners.

“With its tall buildings and high profile, the downtown area is both a feasible and an attractive location for wind turbines," Skala said.

The council decided not to allow wind turbines downtown due to recommendations from merchants and board members of the district.

“Downtown is considered a National Historic District," Carrie Gartner, executive director of the district board, said in an email. "The board believes the wind turbines would be incompatible with its historic designation,”

Although a few citizens expressed the same concern, the ordinance passed unanimously.

Mayor Bob McDavid said the ordinance is dynamic — it will change as technology evolves.

Despite the zoning restriction, downtown businesses can appeal to the council for an amendment to the ordinance,Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said.

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Ray Shapiro October 26, 2011 | 2:37 p.m.

("The District is 43-square blocks nestled between Columbia, Missouri's three colleges. Roughly speaking, we're bordered by Providence Avenue, Park Avenue, Elm Street and College Avenue. When in doubt, head directly to the center of town and look for the sidewalk cafes, the historic architecture and all the people window-shopping.")

Why should ALL of the 43-square block area not have the same opportunities to take advantage of new technology in Columbia?
Perhaps "The District" is too large and should be reduced to just a smaller official Special Business District and officially become designated as an historic site/area.

(Report Comment)
Gerald Shelnutt October 26, 2011 | 4:11 p.m.

Why not build the things and hire some so called artist to splash some red. green and orange paint on them and call it art. Couldn't look any worse then the scrap piles by the library.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 26, 2011 | 5:01 p.m.

@ Gerald Shelnutt:

Apparently you don't understand the significance of the public library sculpture. Neither do most Columbians.

It's a monument to Iowa State University!

Note that the color is mainly yellow but there are splashes of red. Iowa State's school colors are cardinal and gold. What is Iowa State's mascot? Cy Clone, a big red and yellow dishevelled bird.

You don't think the sculpture looks like a dishevelled bird? That's because you've only viewed it while sober. Leave the library area and go to Boone Tavern. Knock back several "stiff ones," until you are well "smashed." then walk or crawl - do not drive! - back to the library and view the sculpture.

It will resemble a dishevelled bird. :)

[I would like to be able to say that I thought this up, but it was suggested to me by Iowa State alumni who have seen "the scrap piles at the library." They're still laughing. Yes, they did get smashed at Boone tavern, and they didn't drive while in that condition.]

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks October 26, 2011 | 5:26 p.m.

The district should be thanking the city council for saving them shame and money for an under producing technology. I can think of a number of things that you can spend your money on if you have 10k to spend and 56 years to make it back.

(Report Comment)
vinnie TAGGERT October 26, 2011 | 8:51 p.m.

If the downtown District is designated as a "National Historic District", why the ugly monster parking garage at 5th & Walnut and plans for a second one for the new hotel? Better yet, why not put those monster garages to work and put wind mills on top of them?

(Report Comment)
John M. Nowell, III October 27, 2011 | 9:55 a.m.

Thanks for the laugh, Ellis.

When I drive by the library, the recycled scrap iron looks like two praying mantis shooting pool.

The real "art" was the ability of the sculptor to transfer almost 250K from the tax payers of Boone County into his personal account.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 27, 2011 | 10:58 a.m.

@ John M. Nowell III:

Let's not forget "Tiger Spot" at MU. All someone would have had to do before installing that bit of art would have been to dial a number at MS&T and the people on the other end would have said, "Cool! JUST DON'T INSTALL IT OUTDOORS OR YOU'LL BE SORRY YOU DID!" The folks on the other end of the phone line are considered leaders in glass technology. They normally charge for advice, but there would have been no charge to MU.

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger October 27, 2011 | 11:22 a.m.

re: library art. I might be off- base here, but I think the sculptures were paid for by private money. In an event, for me they conjur up images of Don Quixote.

(Report Comment)
Gerald Shelnutt October 27, 2011 | 12:05 p.m.

Hank: If what you say is true then who ever paid for the scrap heap should be fined for operating an unlicensed junk yard.

Ellis yours is funny.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 28, 2011 | 7:36 a.m.

My post concerning library sculpture was intended to be humorous; my Tiger Spot post was not. Tiger Spot was none of our business, but the episode illustrates the lack of communication in this so-called "university system." Of course there was no phone call made, because nobody seems to know what transpires at the four campuses other than their own.

From 1870 to present, the campus variously known as MSM, UMR and MS&T has been charged with testing materials of construction: natural, man-made, composites, inexpensive, terribly expensive, etc. We even bombard some materials with nuclear radiation, which is one reason we have a nuclear research reactor (first one built in Missouri).

Much of the work has been done for paying clients. When you do all that testing you sort of know what material will work in a given situation, and what must be done for it to work.

Recently the City of Columbia had a problem with efflorescence (the technical name) in some ceramic structural units. An in-state phone call could have solved that problem. Efflorescence is seldom a "fatal" condition.

PS: My Iowa State friends are still puzzling why the City of Columbia chose to build a monument to Cy Clone. Well, what do alumni from Kow Kollege, aka Plow Tech, know?

(Report Comment)

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