NEW PHILADELPHIA -- Police have issued a cease-and-desist order to the management of Schoenbrunn Inn and Conference Center to make them stop work on a wind turbine for which they had not obtained a building permit.
The Police Department also blocked parts of Garland Drive NW on Tuesday to keep traffic away from the structure, which city officials said is unsound.
“Our duty is to protect the public,” said Police Chief Michael Goodwin said. “It could go down and take out the back south wing of that hotel.”
Mike Scolati, zoning and building code administrator, said the company building the structure initially ignored the cease-and-desist order when he issued it Nov. 7, leading to the police action to enforce the order Friday.
The owner of the inn, Garland NP LLC, asked Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Judge Elizabeth Lehigh Thomakos on Monday to issue a temporary restraining order against the city, in an attempt to block the city’s order to stop construction.
Mayor Joel B. Day said the city prevailed when the judge refused to grant the order sought by the company.
“You have to follow the proper process for things,” Day said. “If you don’t, there are consequences.”
The issue has been on the city administration’s radar since summer, when the Alliance-based installer for the wind turbine made an informal inquiry about the regulatory process that would apply to the structure, according to Scolati.
“It just kind of got not taken serious, then all of a sudden they wanted a building permit,” Scolati said.
Scolati said the installer proceeded with construction without following the process, which would have begun with obtaining a building permit from the East Central Ohio Building Authority, located in Dover. The next step would have been to get a permit from the city with an application showing the structure’s footprint on the Schoenbrunn property at 143 Garland Drive NW.
As it stands, the pole for the wind turbine is about 117 feet high, Scolati said. Its finished height was to have been 160 feet with blades measuring 80 feet in diameter. Its maximum output was specified at 75 kilowatts.
But, like a house that needs a roof, the structure needs its top to be stable, according to city officials. The top has not been installed.
Scolati said the installer has admitted that the structure cannot safely be left in its present state.
“It has to be complete before it’s even safe to stand,” Scolati said. “By their own admission, they said it’s not safe to stand the way it is. We closed the road just in case there is a wind gust.”
Greg Courtney, who answered the phone at Wind Turbines of Ohio LLC, in Alliance, said he could not discuss the issue Thursday. He referred a reporter to a member of Schoenbrunn Inn’s management. The manager did not respond to a reporters’ request for comment by press time Thursday.
Scolati said the turbine is expected to be removed this weekend by its owners.
“We are giving them permission to take it down,” he said. “They can start taking it down for the safety of the citizens and so we can open that road back up.”