After what Mayor Nancy Hunter called a “painful and lengthy” discussion on whether or not to allow wind turbines in the city limits, the Stephenville City Council decided in a split vote Tuesday to prohibit the towering, energy producing structures.

While most of the council members agreed they were not voting for the prohibition because they were against turbines, they also agreed that a proposed ordinance presented by the Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) needs substantial work before they would vote to make the zoning requirements law.

With a 6-3 vote, the council approved an ordinance making it unlawful to construct, erect or install a wind energy conservation system within the city. 

Hunter, council member Martha Cashon and Mayor Pro-Tem Malcom Cross voted against the ordinance to prohibit.

The council placed a 180-day moratorium on wind turbines in August 2008, which was extended to allow P&Z to draft the proposed ordinance. After several commission and committee meetings, the council’s Planning and Development Committee voted in October to forward the prohibition recommendation to the council, citing needed revisions.

Several of the council members were ready to reject the prohibition and adopt the P&Z ordinance if height, space and location limitations and requirements could be amended by the council.

But as explained by City Administrator Mark Kaiser, the council would have to approve the P&Z’s version of the law and suggested changes would then have to go back to the commission. Following the establishment of amendments by P&Z, the council could then vote to adopt the amendments.

The thought raised concern for council member Alan Nash, who was not willing to make a “leap of faith” by adopting an ordinance he and other council members did not agree with and “pray” that needed changes would be made after the law was already set in stone.

“We know how long we take to do things,” Nash said pointing out two projects that recently came to fruition after a decade on the drawing board. “Government is as slow as molasses.”  

Nash added if the proposed P&Z ordinance was adopted Tuesday, a number of wind turbines could pop up under unfavorable specifications and against the best interest of citizens.

If the majority of the council members get their way, the issue will be returned to P&Z for further research and development and the council once consider another zoning ordinance in the future.