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Council approves settlement agreement with Apex

From left: Councilman Al Gleichmann, Councilman Charles Coffman and City Manager Jim Crosby

In a special session held Monday, Dec. 9, the Piedmont City Council approved a settlement agreement with Apex Clean Energy and Kingfisher Wind LLC.

The agreement establishes a “No Turbine Area” in which the wind energy companies agreed they will not build any turbines and outside of which the City of Piedmont will not prohibit the construction of wind turbines. The “No Turbine Area” extends west of Piedmont to Manning Rd and runs south to Wilshire Blvd. Because of the jagged nature of Piedmont’s city limits, some areas of Piedmont receive a three mile buffer and others receive a two mile buffer. The only area with less than a two mile buffer is the small piece of Piedmont that juts into Kingfisher County.

In addition to the “No Turbine Zone”, the wind energy companies agreed to not construct any turbines taller than 499 ft. and to set back all turbines at least 1500 ft. from the residences of non-participating landowners within the project area. The agreement also states that Kingfisher Wind will pay the City of Piedmont a one-time sum of $20,000.

40 Comments

  1. JT says:

    What? They could only extort $20k from Apex? I guess their goal of $250k/year for two years was just too ambitious.

    I don’t see how this agreement is legally enforceable. Apex agrees to not build turbines outside the city limits and the council approves of it. So what? How can you make a legally binding agreement with the city about an area in which the city has no legal authority?

    Isn’t that like singing a quit claim deed to property you don’t own?

  2. Charles Coffman says:

    JT, the $20k was for expenses associated with working the issue, paperwork, negotiations and the like. A lot of time went into this. It was never about money and we were not asking for any. The state allows a city 3 miles outside your border for nuisance actions. When we said we would invoke that right, and then specified it in our ordinance it showed we were not kidding. That resulted in a settlement. No one wanted to go to court. The result is we got some buffer signed by the primary in the wind development.

    • JT says:

      Please Charles, this whole thing was about money. Apex making money of the turbines, land owners making money off of turbine leases and the value of people’s property. If no one wanted to go to court then why file a lawsuit? I’m pretty sure the COPRA people were foaming at the mouth to go to court. I’m also pretty sure that some landowners did file a lawsuit.

      Obviously you were serious about going to court to enforce a 3 mile buffer or else you wouldn’t make a law and file a lawsuit. Sheesh just be honest.

      Reports of nearing agreement indicate change of tune for city, COPRA on wind farm project – Nov. 8 2013

      “A city official confirmed Thursday that the city and COPRA had a tentative agreement in place that would place turbines within three miles of the city’s borders in exchange for payments to the city.”

      Council holds closed-door meeting to discuss agreement with wind energy company – Nov. 21, 2013

      “Details of what the proposal includes have not been shared by Apex or officially by the city, but one city official said it involved payments to the city.”

      Editorial: Council should hold public meeting tonight – Nov. 21, 2013

      “Apex has proposed an agreement with the city that would see the construction of some turbines within three miles of the city limits in exchange for payments to Piedmont, city officials have said.”

      • Charles Coffman says:

        Nope, it is all a step by step process. Discussions went nowhere so you raise the bar, talk again. It took the actions of the city to get a compromise when at first we had windmills right up to the boarders. The stories were really junk. People that had nothing to do with the talks were tossing things out and people believed it. The discussions had gone on for some time but it was not money, it was buffer. You might compare what you were told on several stories with what the actual outcome was. Story about city giving up city space for money… Nope. City being led around by citizen group…. Nope. City having closed door meetings and making decisions… Nope. City action costing the city millions in lawsuites…. Nope. It really was just what we said.; we wanted a three mile buffer and if we have to partner with other groups or act on state laws to get that so be it. In the end we got a buffer, not payoffs and are not getting into more lawsuites.

    • Vernon Woods says:

      Chuckie, you have previously made several unfounded references to the ‘3 mile limit’ without providing any information on the applicable state statute. You have started doing it again. There is no such wording in any existing statute.
      No matter how many times an untruth is used in an argument, it it ain’t true now, it will never be true later.

      • Charles Coffman says:

        Hmmmmm guess we made the whole thing up and The Daily Oklahoma got it wrong when they said we were using a state law that allows cities to…. Well, you can read the story.

        • Vernon Woods says:

          Come on, Chuckie – back up your statements with facts – that’s all I’m asking.

          • JT says:

            Heh ol’ Vern is right. The law doesn’t say anything about 3 miles. I’m not sure who came up with three miles, maybe that distance was satisfactory to Pam?

            Charles, you might want to read Oklahoma Statutes, Title 50 Section 16. “Cities and towns in this state shall have the right and power to determine what is and what shall constitute a nuisance within their respective corporate limits, and for the protection of the public health, the public parks and the public water supply, shall have such power outside of the corporate limits.”

            Public parks? Nope. Public water supply? Nope. Public health? Only if you believe the whackos. I guess you and some other councilmen believe the whackos?

        • JT says:

          You should re-read the story too Charles. By the way was Dahvi Wilson misquoted or lying?

          From the story titled “Kingfisher County landowners file lawsuit against Piedmont over wind turbine ordinance” in The Oklahoman on Sept 25, 2013:

          Dahvi Wilson, an Apex spokeswoman, said the company has held several meetings with city officials and is trying to work out an agreement. The company’s proposal includes a buffer between wind turbines and city limits and a road-use agreement to compensate the city for wear and tear on city roads during construction and operations of the project. The city stands to get a payment totaling $1.5 million over 10 years under the proposed road-use agreement.

          Again were you not offered $1.5 million by Apex? Man those COPRA people must have you quaking in your boots over Vernon’s recall.

          • Charles Coffman says:

            JT, we did not want the money, we wanted a buffer. Anyone can make a quote to a paper on what may or may not have been offered in discussions. We tried not to talk about much. I see that article you mentioned did not say how much buffer was offered in September. The bottom line is we did not take any offers and instead continued to ask for the three mile buffer. We asked of the full agreement to be placed in the newspapers for all to see. We did that to clear up any misconceptions that were floating around out there.

          • Charles Coffman says:

            Regarding the state statutes. You have to cobble together the 3 mile portion in one area with the nuisance portion found scattered around in others. The real deal is on case laws that showed cities do have some abilities to reach out of their areas, some were out to three miles. So, a lot depends on how the judge would see it and as with any case you roll the dice. On things like pig farms and waste sites it might be pretty clear, but who knows on windmills, power plants, or other things how the law might go. It could also take 10 years and set case law for future cases. So, when you ask for what exact statute I have been smiling because it is really the case law but I am not an attorney. I kid around with Vernon on this but it is a real option for cities to use but through case law, not a specific statute. Hope that is a better answer, no side step, just one of those messy answer items.

          • JT says:

            You should have taken the money. You could have financed maybe a mile of road repair every two years with that Screw the people who live outside the city limits. You represent us not them. You won’t be getting my vote.

            Sorry if that sounds mean, but it’s how I feel.

          • Charles Coffman says:

            That is OK but don’t forget that we were concerned about the People on the border on the Piedmont side. If not we could have taken cash and hung them out there or traded part of the city land for buffers in other parts of town. Instead we stuck with the 3 mile border the entire time even when people were making junk up in public. The people on the border are pretty happy. The paper was saying we were being controlled by a citizens group, that was never close to true. It is hard to counter that, and it sounds like you thought that was the case. Here is the deal about accepting cash to go away or settle..not a good idea because it can fall into that grey area some can call bribery. We can be reimbursed for something, but other payments can fall into those grey areas that are best to stay away from for elected representatives and cities. Businesses can do that, not so good for cities. We were thinking of Piedmont and got beat up for doing it but in the end we got our border. Sorry you feel otherwise.

          • Vernon Woods says:

            So, Chuckie, you’re admitting that there actually is no actual state statute regarding the three mile linit – just a convient unsubstianted argument that most people take as face value – such as yourself. Y’all sure fooled a lot of people, but I guess you were just kidding around with everyone. Messy answers always arise from smoky answers.

            And your comment ‘ We were thinking of Piedmont and got beat up for doing it’ really brings tears to my eyes.

          • ant says:

            So let me get this straight, Vernon & JT are not happy about the buffer? JT you normally seem to be reasonable with your comments but i am lost on this attack. Vernon your just bitter about your loss and now want to stir the pot. We now have a council of 3 reasonable members, 1 without a clue and 1 who won’t participate. Get behnd the council and quit trying to campaign for the next election. I for one like the turbines have been moved back and if you live within the city you should be happy to. Twisting charles words is not solving anything here.

  3. Concerned says:

    This is a good deal. Now it’s done and over with. How about going back to working on potholes?

  4. ant says:

    it is a good deal and kudos to the members who participated. but it is sad we have a member of the council that will not participate or show up when he does not agree with something. how many times has he skipped executive sessions because he dosent agree with the topic. Like a kid pouting when he does not get his way. No representation for his ward right now. Sad very sad!

  5. JT says:

    Ant,

    I confess that I wasn’t getting the whole story from the Piedmont newspapers. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. My eyes were opened yesterday when I actually read the wording of the nuisance law and a couple of Daily Oklahoman articles.

    1. The 3 mile buffer is just a line that someone drew on a map. It’s only based on what some people on COPRA liked.

    2. The city council could have cared less about what was going on outside the city limits until COPRA got Vernon recalled. It’s pretty clear that once that happened the other councilmen started paying attention. Only then (the first meeting after the recall) were the turbines declared a “nuisance” and only then did the city join a lawsuit. It is plain as day that some on the council were scared to death they would be targeted by COPRA next. The city council was being led around by the nose by these COPRA people.

    3. The law clearly states that there are only 3 reasons that something outside of the city limits can be declared a nuisance if it threatens: the public health, water supply or parks. Obviously the wind turbines posed no threats to the water, and no threats to the (maybe 2?) public parks. So we are left with public health. Am I supposed to believe the ridiculous claims made by opponents about how turbines affect the health of animals and humans? Have you read any of the claims they’ve made? It’s like reading a 9-11 truther website.

    4. Every time there is a council election what do the candidates say? I’m going to do my part to fix the roads! Well they had a chance to get $1.5 million for road repair which isn’t much, but it’s $1.5 million more than they had. There’s no excuse to not accept that except if you’re scared to death of COPRA and their precious 3 mile buffer.

    5. COPRA is made up of people that don’t even live in Piedmont, but yet they have special influence on the city council. The city council should be ashamed that they let themselves be influenced by these loons.

    However Ant, you and I can agree on two things. Al Gleichmann is clueless and we are better off with Vernon off the council.

    Obviously we disagree about the 3 mile buffer.

    • Ant says:

      I never said anything about a 3 mile buffer. I stated buffer only referring to what was agreed to. If memory is correct COPRA was not looking for any buffer they wanted to stop all turbines. The city upon advice from the city attorney asked for a 3 mile buffer. I do not believe any of the city council were afraid of COPRA, because they were doing their job. Vernon was playing both sides of the issue and being defiant to anybody who questioned his motives, that is why Bobby was able to win after COPRA got the recall. If my facts are correct, the 1.5 m was to allow the turbines everywhere except city limits including areas surrounded by city limits. That eould have been bad for the majority of Piedmont citizens. Be happy with the outcome and quit trying to find a conspiracy

      • JT says:

        I’m not trying to find a conspiracy. COPRA spearheaded the recall against Vernon. The council was scared of COPRA. That’s why the very first council meeting after the recall, when Bobby was sworn in, the council declared the turbines a nuisance and joined COPRA’s lawsuit. They decided it was better to join in with a special interest group than risk being recalled as well.

        The wind turbines wouldn’t have affected most of the people in Piedmont. Most of the noise about the turbines was drummed up by hysterical people who had no facts to support their ridiculous accusations.

        Nothing like this happened when they build the wind farm by Calumet. A wind farm was built right next to my hometown and they are going to build another one right next to a neighboring town. There are no hysterical people making wild accusations there.

        If a rational reason could be stated for the buffer I might be willing to listen, but I haven’t heard one yet. That’s why I see this whole thing as a farce.

        • ant says:

          So you were ok with turbins in the center of our community?? Most people do not want them due to how they look and use the chicken little cry as a tool to block them. Having a common goal dosent constitute being scared. This was good for the community and the council efforts should be celebrated.

          • JT says:

            That’s a straw man argument. There were never any plans for turbines in the middle of town. Even the turbines that Apex had originally planned on putting inside town were going up in the middle of wheat fields and pastures out in the far west and north sides of town where houses are few and far between.

            By the way I didn’t hear anyone complain when the Funks or whoever put up a wind turbine about a half mile straight east of the Piedmont Realty office. That was in the middle of town!

            You say it was for the good of the community, but what about all the land owners that got screwed over because they lost their lease? You cheering for the council, also looks like cheering for taking money from other people. There are tradeoffs to every decision.

            Again no one can say WHY this decision was good for the community and they can’t say WHY the buffer is necessary. Rubio was right, compromise for the sake of compromise is foolish.

            I guess I just see this as more of a clash of city people versus country people. Being from the country I have no problem with wind turbines and I’ll never understand the slicks’ arguments.

          • ant says:

            Jt you seem to be confused, you stated turbines were never going up in the center of town then you state when Apex was planning on putting them up in the middle of town they were in the middle of wheat fields. Which is it?? Look at the map and you will see a strip of unincorporate land right through the middle of the city limits. Also see if leases were signed on any of that land. I agree the farmers have land rights, but so do the rest of us. The aurgument of i was here first so i have more rights is not valid. I have never even met Pam or had discussions with city leaders about this and i have formed my own opinion just as you have. Just because it dosent bother you dosent mean it can’t bother somebody else.

          • JT says:

            Ant you need to go back and read what I wrote. I said they would be put in the middle of wheat fields and pastures out in the far west and north sides of town where houses are few and far between. The land you are referring to is hardly “in the middle of town”, it’s on the west and north side of town. Do you think that there are neighborhoods in every section? There are dozens of square miles of nothing but wheat fields and pasture inside the city limits. Look at an aerial or drive out to the area; you wouldn’t know you are in “town” unless you have a map.

            And again a wind turbine was erected in the middle of town and no one raised a fuss at all. How do you explain that?

            And so what if someone can see a wind turbine from their house? What harm does it cause? No one can present a valid argument as to why turbines shouldn’t be put in certain places. That is what really bothers me. This is all based on junk science and hysteria. Give me a logical reasoned argument and I’ll be willing to listen.

          • ant says:

            I understand what you wrote and i understand Piedmont covers a large area. your defining center of our community as right in own where i see it as city limit boundries. We can argue all day about the pros or cons of the turbines but the real deal here is you side lost he fight and in lieu of accepting it and moving on you ant to continue the fight. You bring up the turbine in town, but you fail to acknowlege it is only a couple hundred feet tall and 1 single unit compared to almost 500′ tall multilple units that Apex wants to install. The existing private turbine you reference is still allowed within the city limits. There are many commercial ventures that do not impose a health hazzard that i still do not want as a neighbor and my opinion of the impact it has to me is just that an opinion that i am entitled to. I was not part of the fight on this as they do not affect me but i know many people who live on the edges of the Piedmont city limits who were scared to death of having to look at them as long as they lived there.

          • JT says:

            I’m not fighting anything. I never fought for or against anything. I’m simply stating my opinion that the people who were as you say “scared to death of having to look at them” are fools. City council is also stupid for turning down $1.5 million for roads. Coffman is my councilman and he hasn’t got one road in his ward fixed since he’s been elected.

          • Charles Coffman says:

            Well, I do drive the roads every weekend..little black truck and call in the bad areas. That is how Arrowhead gets graded and graveled and the pot holes are getting filled. I also got 164th from Sara to Council rd, Mustang rd from 164th to Edmond, Sara from Edmond to Arrowhead on the bond. Sadly, one ex councilman wrote an terible article in the paper suggesting the Mustang rd and Sara rd parts were “maybe” items and people did not trust those actually be done. It might have been too big and the cost was more than people wanted to do but I did get 4 miles on it for our ward. We also have an agreement with OKC to ay or half of the 164th stretch. Agree you have not seen anything yet but it hasn’t been from lack of trying. You seem pretty sure we were offered $1.5 million over ten years, and that it would have actually materialized. You also seem pretty sure that the Piedmont folks that were going to have windmills next their homes were fools for blocking “green” energy. If you actually got to hear their stories and talk to them you would see they we’re good people, smart as you, who did not want to have dozens of structures on the horizon with red flashing lights. That is not a foolish position, it is how they felt and they asked for help and we did.

          • ant says:

            charles the majority of us i believe understand the work you are doing and understand the battles you are having to fight at each and every meeting. anybody who will say they prefer the turbines in lieu of a clear horizon is full of BS. Keep up the good work as you have support for what you are doing. If you recall i was not a supporter of yours in the begining but always said if you keep up the good unbiased fight i would like to see it. i believe you have don that.

          • Charles Coffman says:

            JT..And before you say it.. Yes the solution is to bring in business to increase the tax base to have a road crew, equipment, and planned improvements. Some are still concerned about our extra 1 cent sales tax and have some concerns we will change the codes and ordinances on them if they invest here. We have some things to overcome but are trying very hard to change our image. It is good that we can have these discussions to talk issues. There will be new folks in elected officials over time and if we can keep building upon efforts over each election cycles then maybe we can build parks or other nice things instead of spending any extra funds into roads.

          • JT says:

            No offense Charles, but talking about how you got x amount of miles on the ballot for a failed bond election 6 months ago is kind of like Al Bundy talking about how he scored 4 touchdowns in one game. Filling potholes is like playing whack-a-mole and it still leaves a bump. Good to know you got Arrowhead graded, but how many people drive on that road per day? In fact does anyone know the traffic counts on any roads in town? Would it not be wise to fix the roads that get the most traffic then move to the secondary roads?

            But who am I kidding, the roads won’t ever get fixed because the town is too big to maintain on the amount of tax revenue it receives. Actually almost all the problems in this town can be attributed to the physical size of the town. But hey let’s all hold hands and sing kumbaya because 3 councilmen agreed on something and some people won’t have to look at flashing red lights at night because the lights magically disappear when you get 3 miles from them or something.

          • Charles Coffman says:

            JT, we can’t give up on the roads. We did get 164th fron Piedmont to Cemetary and some stretches of Waterloo redone. Vernon will say it was not done right but they have a good base and can be upgraded later. The council said they would support 164th from Sara to County Line next. OKC says they will still split the cost of 164th between Sara and County Line. We need $600k and we might be close. If we spend that money to get two miles of good base and 4 inch asphalt would you object? You really can not say we have done nothing, the bond was one try, discussing the law enforcement option was another (even though the stories were out and out false). It is a tough sell around here but we keep trying. The ward map has changed by the way, you might have a new councilman now.

          • JT says:

            I checked the map and you are still my councilman. Fixing 164th would be great if it happens. I would consider that progress.

            I had no problem with using the sheriff for law enforcement by the way.

            If the project on 164th happens I will change my mind. How close is close?

          • Charles Coffman says:

            JT, I will have to double check but I think we are over $400k, need $600k. It will need to get council approval as well. We will do one mile per year, done right.

  6. Charles Coffman says:

    JT, might be good to talk to Pam, the other council members were not afraid of a recall. And it took a while to get the language together for the ordinance and get it in place. The only relationship to the recall was it looked more likely to pass afterward. It had been in the works for some time. I know you won’t believe my words but a short discussion with Pam would probably be just as helpful as what you read.

  7. Charles Coffman says:

    Thanks ant, if we all work together as a team we can make things better.

  8. JT says:

    I’ve got to admit I got quite the chuckle when I found this today. Been there for 8 years.

    wwwDOTnews9DOTcom/category/116601/video-page?clipId=9274012&autostart=true

    • Ant says:

      I do not know if i found the correct article, but if it is the one about home values, i found it very interesting that the study specifically addresses “operating wind farms” and did not address dormant wind farms as far as how home values are affected

  9. JT says:

    No it was a News 9 story about the wind farm in Weatherford that’s been there for 8 years. The mayor laughed when he found out that Piedmont’s motto was “winds of progress”.

  10. Concerned says:

    I’ll admit I check this often just to read the stupid comments that Vernon makes. It’s like watching a train wreck. You know it’s gonna happen but you just can’t turn your head away.

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