By Rosemary K. Otzman
Van Buren Township has announced that a long-planned, green-energy project at the former Visteon Village that has brought continued opposition from neighbors, has been cancelled at the developer’s request.
On Friday, Arthur Mullen, VBT Planning and Economic Development Department Director, issued a press release giving the township’s thoughts on the cancellation.
Director Mullen said that on June 20, Hoosier Energy notified VBT that it would not be moving forward with the Hoosier Energy Co-generation project. Supervisor Linda Combs announced this publicly July 16.
Mullen said Hoosier Energy proposed to develop a co-generation facility that would use landfill gas from the Woodland Meadows landfill to fire four electric turbines and hot water would be used to heat the Grace Lake Corporate Center during the winter months. This project has been under review since 2010.
The electricity generated was to be put on the grid and used by a cooperative in Indiana.
Mullen said that in the last six months, significant progress towards the issuance of construction permits had been accomplished in regards to beginning construction by the project’s Aug. 22, 2013 ground-breaking deadline.
Mullen said since the project’s beginning, the township has worked with the developer through a number of complex issues in regards to noise, site and building design, and zoning use classification. Through long negotiations, these issues were addressed by the Aug. 22, 2012 Planning Commission approval, he said.
Mullen said the township anticipated this green-energy investment at the Grace Lake Corporate Center and the project benefits would have included: renewal energy production in VBT, use of a landfill byproduct (methane) that is currently being burned off and wasted at the Woodland Meadows site to create energy, increased assessed property values in the LDFA district, support environmental stewardship in the township, support job creation, and support economic development in the township.
Mullen, who arrived at his VBT job in February, did not mention the years of public opposition by Visteon site neighbors concerning all the expected problems, as well as the charge that it was illegal under the current master plan.
Two members of the planning commission – Carl Johnson and Ken Guenther – had voted against the project.
One of the persistent critics has been Ernest Tozer who was glad to hear last week that his ongoing fight against the project was finally at an end.
As recently as May 29, Tozer had delivered 20-page packets of information on the proposal to individual members of the township board to make sure both old and new board members understood the background of the project, which had been before the planning commission for years.
“I am pleased that the plans to build a co-generation facility in the Grace Lake complex located in the northeast section of Van Buren Township have been cancelled,” Tozer said on Monday.
“As we, the local residents, have shown over the past few years, this proposed facility was/is in violation of the master plan, current zoning and prevailing ordinances.
“It should have been disallowed by our township officials long ago.”
By Rosemary K. Otzman