Town and Country's New Covenant Presbyterian Church wants to put a 19 foot windmill on its property and it went before the city's planning and zoning commission with its proposal.
The church is asking for a conditional use permit to put the windmill in the rear yard of a 1.94 acre lot at 2127 N. Ballas Road. That property is part of three adjoining lots owned by the church.
The wind-powered windmill would occupy 40 square feet of ground space.
According to church officials, the windmill will be a teaching tool for elementary students at Covenant Christian School, while providing water for the school’s garden.
"They're studying windmills right now, wind energy, so it's already being integrated into the curriculum," said John Roberts, assistant pastor and head of school for Covenant Presbyterian.
The structure would operate a diaphram which pumps air to a water pump, to carry water from a rain collection barrel at Covenant Christian School, on the church property, to a water storage barrel at the school’s garden site.
The city of Town and Country mailed a letter to all residents within 300 feet of the site, as well as the trustees of the adjacent subdivision, Hawthorne Estates, to make them aware of the request and that the issue would be on the March 28 Planning and Zoning Commission agenda.
At that meeting, commission members reviewed the request.
"This has nothing to do with the generation of energy," Town and Country's Planning Director Sharon Rothmel told the planning and zoning commission at that meeting. Rothmel pointed out that there are other structures that are allowed in city limits including gazeebos and pool houses that are close in height and they don't need conditional use permits.
Rothmel doesn't think the windmill will be visible to neighbors, but one commissioner disagrees and said he believes it will be visible from one resident's home.
John Roberts, assistant pastor and head of school for Covenant Presbyterian tells Patch he's met with the neighborhood associaton leaders to inform them of the church's request and he's met with the one neighbor Rothmel and the commissioner were discussing.
"I've spoken to them, they're not opposed," Roberts said.
Commissioner Rick Kelly expressed concerns over safety and having a windmill with blades around children.
"I don't know what age kids are running around here, but there is a little cause of concern for this," Kelly said of the windmill. "Having a kid and being a kid, this would be a magnet for me."
"I can assure you safety is our top priority. We will take every step neccesary to ensure our students safety," Roberts said. He said there are always at least three adults outside with children.
"We're going to educate our kids about it. This is a windmill, this is what it does and these are the parts that are dangerous," explained Stefan Novosel, assistant to the head of school.
Novosel also said, the youngest children who might not understand the safety issues would be too small to climb the windmill.
There was also concern by the planning and zoning commission about the amount of noise the structure might create, approximately 60 decibles at 20 feet.
"It doesn't seem to be something that's appropriate for a neighborhood. To me it looks like an attractive nuisance," Commissioner Dennis Bolazina said. "I have a concern about that, just as I have concerns about swimming pools. We require significant fencing around swimming pools."
School officials said there will be a fence around the base of the windmill.
"I can assure that is it not our intention to allow this to be a nuisance," Roberts said and he offered to change fencing and work with the city to make the project work within the city's guidelines.
"No lighting, no power, no motor, purely energy driven," Novosel also explained.
The commission approved the request and will send the request to the board of aldermen for final approval. The board of aldermen will hold a public hearing before its final vote.
Aldermen have to approve the conditional use permit before the structure can be built.
Patch readers can view the staff report and a copy of the letter mailed to residents in the PDF portion of this article.