Saturday, March 1, 2003

New Cinergy substation came as surprise to Boone County

By Gina Holt
Enquirer contributor

BURLINGTON - Boone County is booming with restaurants, shops, a variety of businesses and now with a towering Cinergy substation that has some officials concerned.

Cinergy began construction on the substation in December and expects to have it in operation June 1.

It's located on Ky. 18 just east of the Oakbrook subdivision where Dr. Albert Vesper's pediatric office used to be. Vesper retired in early 2001 after nearly 30 years of practice and 15 years at the Ky. 18 location.

"A substation steps down a high voltage of 69 KV to 13.2 KV and that is distributed through the lines to consumers," said Kathy Meinke, Cinergy spokesperson.

The site is visible from both Ky. 18 and Cedar Hill Lane in Oakbrook.

"They (Cinergy) chose that site without even discussing it with us," said Kevin Costello, executive director of Boone County Zoning Services.

"We're very concerned with the appearance. We've met with them but they already secured the property and laid it out before we even knew they were going to build that. They had knocked down the office and secured the equipment before we even knew what was going on there."

"They are exempt from zoning as a public utility," said Kevin Wall, director of zoning services, adding that the land is zoned Office One.

Cinergy paid $515,000 for just over three acres. It was two parcels, one costing $390,000 and the other $125,000. The parcels were owned by Vesper and a member of the Vesper family.

Wall said Cinergy's plans for the substation show a double row of staggered trees across the Ky. 18 frontage.

"It's still going to be visible," he said. "It's very tall."

Costello said he wishes the utility company had approached him first so that they could have possibly discussed a different location or a way to make it less noticeable.

"It's highly visible in the main corridor to the county seat," he said. "It would be one thing if it set back at a distance. We're looking at softening the impact.

"As the county continues to expand we realize there will always be a need to expand the network and provide electricity to the city."

Meinke said the substation is a high voltage area. No Trespassing signs will be posted and the area will be fenced.

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