NEW BREMEN – During a frequently tense meeting, the New Bremen Council ultimately voted five to one in favor of an option that locates the village’s new electrical substation farther from residential neighborhoods than originally considered.
Since a Planning Commission meeting six weeks ago, Council and residents had debated whether the substation would be located off Herman Street or farther west. An electrical consulting firm earlier had listed three options, each more expensive the farther west the location.
Option three was approved, which will locate the substation farther west and behind Speedway Lanes, with an estimated cost of $6,180,312.53. It also will involve purchasing 3.346 acres owned by John and Ginny Vorhees for $560,000.
Option one was estimated to be $4,924,211.63 with a $10,000 0.796 acre land purchase from Crown Equipment. Option two was rejected earlier as too expensive.
The lone dissenting vote was by councilman Jacob Larger. Before the vote, Larger read a prepared statement saying that, as a councilman who had run as a fiscal conservative, he could not support the more expensive option three.
Voting in favor of option three were councilman Dennis Burnell, Bob Parker, Brent Richter, Jim Kronenberger and Don Kuck. Kronenberger said what influenced his vote in favor of option three was that the larger property would allow for future expansion.
Before the vote for option three, comments were accepted from the approximately 50 residents in attendance, and Mayor Jeff Pape recognized the village employees and elected officials for their time and effort.
Resident feedback was for option three.
Speedway Lanes owner Brian Alig said he favored option three. He said his business could use landscaping to hide the site from his business.
Also, 131 signatures of New Bremen residents favoring option three were presented to Council. Earlier in the month, the village website had posted all the project information, but Pape said there was little feedback from community about the location and cost of either option.
“The silence also speaks volumes” about whether the community favored either option, he said.
Another resident asked if the cost of the project would result in higher taxes as the more village and schools would be facing higher electric bills. Electrical rates are the funding source for the utility and will be used to pay for projects. Under option three, the electrical costs would increase to $0.0065 per kilowatt and the average residential bill would go to $205.23.
Also, proceeding the vote, Pape thanked all involved in the substation project. He particularly pointed to the contribution of Village Administrator Chris Dicke. He said Dicke’s job was to work in the village’s best interests.
Pape also said Crown Equipment could not be blamed for the project becoming necessary. Crown is building a new 500,000 square foot facility. He explained the village, as the source of electrical power, is obligated to provide for businesses within the village limits. He said village officials already knew they were coming close to the limits of the village’s current power supply before the Crown project began.
Applause erupted from the audience after the council voted in favor of option three. Pape thanked everyone for their involvement.
In other Council action, third readings were approved to approved to vacate a portion of Meadowbrook Place, to amend the employee handbook to include water and wastewater plant weekend coverage policy and to accept a bid of $59,889 for annual village property, vehicle and equipment insurance coverage.
Tabled was approval to seek bids for a loan to cover the cost of the new electrical substation until an exact figure was arrived at.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.