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Vote delayed on Piedmont land issue

The Piedmont City Council on Monday delayed a vote on whether to allow landowners to de-annex from the city in a move that would make way for a wind farm development.
by Paul Monies Published: January 28, 2013

A group of landowners who want to lease their land to wind developers will have to wait longer for a decision to de-annex their property from the city of Piedmont.

The Piedmont City Council voted Monday evening to delay the landowners' request for detachment and de-annexation. The petition involves 13 tracts in the sparsely populated northwest part of Piedmont.

The proposal pits the desires of landowners in the rural areas of the city against their fellow residents who are worried about property values near planned development of a utility-scale wind farm.

Piedmont's planning commission passed a city ordinance in December outlining the steps for development of wind towers limited to a height of 80 feet or 160 feet. The ordinance forbids all other wind development inside city limits. Most commercial-grade developments need wind towers of more than 300 feet.

Virginia-based Apex Wind Energy Inc. plans to begin construction of a 300-megawatt wind farm this year. The development, called the Kingfisher wind farm, is expected to have about 120 turbines in Canadian and Kingfisher counties.

Kent Dougherty, development manager for Apex, said the company is not involved in the deannexation proposal by Piedmont landowners. Apex has leases with some of the landowners but has decided to take its project outside of the city limits after encountering opposition from officials and other Piedmont residents in November.

Mark Henricksen, an attorney for the landowners seeking the deannexation, said his clients have owned the land for more than 100 years.

“They really don't need city hall to tell them how to run their farms,” Henricksen told the council.

Pam Suttles, a Piedmont resident who has spearheaded opposition to wind development in Canadian County, said residents are in the city for services and police and fire protection.

“We are there to be protected,” said Suttles, who spoke for the Central Oklahoma Property Rights Association. “If we wanted to live in the unincorporated part of the county, we would, but we don't want to. We choose to live in the city to be protected. So did these people. They wanted to be protected, and now we need to be protected from them, not from Apex but from our own neighbors.”

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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