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Novak accuses wind farm of violating road agreement

Staff writer

Commissioner Dianne Novak claims she has proof that Enel Green Power is violating its road use contract with the county.

Enel is the company building Diamond Vista wind farm in the northern portion of the county.

Novak said she watched the company’s workers Saturday at its rock pile as they loaded trucks and drove off the designated haul routes. She said she snapped photos on her cell phone as proof.

Novak said the wind farm company’s actions show lack of intention to take care of county roads.

David Mueller, who serves as a liaison between Enel and landowners, disagreed. Mueller came to the commission meeting Monday in case wind farm roads were discussed.

“Enel told me they had gotten a bunch of nasty emails from (county wind farm consulting engineering firm) Kirkham Michael regarding landowners hauling rocks,” Mueller said. “Diamond Vista thought it would be discussed at the meeting.”

Mueller disagreed with Novak’s contention that the rocks hauled Saturday belonged to the wind farm or that Enel had sold the rock to landowners.

“First of all, the rock that was hauled out was not sold, it was not Enel’s rock,” Mueller said.

Mueller said Enel gives landowners rock for their own use. The rock they are given is a lower grade than the rock used for county roads.

“Local landowners are getting harassed,” Mueller said.

Novak insisted the landowners are taking rock off designated haul routes.

At one point remarks between Novak and Mueller hit the point Novak said, “That’s a fish story.”

“Call me a liar,” Mueller answered.

“I didn’t say that,” Novak said, pointing her finger at Mueller. “You did.”

Commissioner Kent Becker said if local landowners are getting the rock, they are not subject to the road maintenance agreement and don’t know what it says.

“I’m asking one question,” Mueller said. “Can landowners haul rock? If not, this discussion is over.”

County clerk Tina Spencer said she would check the minutes of the June 24 commission meeting when the subject of landowners hauling rocks was discussed.

“I think as it sits right now, they can haul it,” Becker said.

“On the haul routes,” Novak said, pointing her finger for emphasis.

Spencer brought minutes of the June 24 meeting to the commission room and said commissioners had made a consensus agreement that landowners can travel non-approved haul route roads when taking rocks to their property.

Mueller said after the meeting that employees of Kirkham Michael have been watching every truck.

“She made a big point that this rock is being sold,” Mueller said. “How can she say that? This rock is not being sold.”

Jeff Pimer, junior project manager for Enel Green Power, said the company’s top priority is to be a good neighbor in the county.

“We take seriously our obligation to abide by the road maintenance agreement we have with the county,” Pimer said. “The agreement specifies that the county, through its consultant, will provide Diamond Vista with a formal post-construction inventory of road maintenance items. We are awaiting this inventory from the county and are eager to perform the necessary repairs to bring this process to a close. Diamond Vista provides direct payments to Marion County and local farmers, supports community initiatives like the Tampa Public Library and has created new, good-paying jobs in Tampa. We look forward to continued partnership with the Marion County community for years to come.”

Last modified Oct. 24, 2019

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