ADDISON (CBS11) – A legal dispute is keeping a green energy project-turned safety hazard, perched high above the town of Addison. Two companies the town is suing have offered to repair or remove the system, but the issue is moving toward a trial later this year.
The turbines, intended to power the town’s water tower, are instead tied down for safety reasons. The turbines or pieces of them had broken down and fallen to the ground at least twice before the system was shut down.
Despite a city council decision two years ago to remove the turbines out of safety concerns, Addison mayor Todd Meier told CBS11 he’s been assured they are safe in place now. A law firm hired by the city to litigate the issue, he said, had advised that the system once thought to be a safety concern, should be left in place.
This month, Meier included a memo from the attorneys in his weekly newsletter. It questioned the involvement of a former city manager in the mediation process between the city and companies involved.
Addison spent nearly $1.2 million to install the system in 2012. Within three months, one turbine fell.
In December 2012, a blade broke off and hit a nearby building. Another turbine was damaged, possibly by a gunshot in 2014.
The city council agreed to spend more than $100,000 to have Landmark Structures remove the system in May 2014. According to court documents though, Addison indicated to Landmark it would be suing for more than $1 million before the removal could begin. The system has been stuck in place ever since.
“I don’t know what they’re still doing up there,” said Neil Resnik, a council member who voted for the removal.
It’s important to try to recover taxpayer costs if possible, Resnik said.
“But if they are a safety hazard, I think that’s even more important,” he said.
Landmark did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Former city manager Ron Whitehead, present at mediation in the case, said the company indicated it would remove the system for free, but the offer was rejected.
Manufacturer Urban Green Energy told CBS11 seven of the eight turbines could be turned on right now. It offered to fix the one damaged turbine several times at no cost, despite the fact the damage, possibly from a bullet, was not part of its warranty.
In addition to outside legal counsel Meier said Addison had hired a consultant as part of the suit. The suit claims that neither company operated in a way that was reasonable and prudent.
A trial is scheduled for November.
(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)