Sunday, June 8, 2008

     

 

 

 

Moratorium on late-hour alcohol sales permit set
Roadside vending guidelines discussed
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

SEVEN POINTS–The Seven Points City Council placed a moratorium on applications for late hour liquor service for 90 days during a special meeting Monday.
Currently, two businesses are permitted to sell alcohol until 2 a.m. The council would like to amend the ordinance to rollback the time to midnight.
“That (allowing late hour sales of alcohol) has been nothing but trouble,” councilman Hank Laywell said.
The bulk of the hour-long meeting was taken up with a discussion of roadside vending.
The issue was tabled, so other city ordinances on the subject could be reviewed and considered. In fact, the council tabled it not once but twice, since discussion reopened on the subject.
The city ordinance, written Oct. 11, 1983, prohibits roadside vending in the city of Seven Points and describes the temporary nature of such operations out of cars, back of trucks and easily disassembled roadside stands. It does not contain any parameters to clearly define roadside vending.
“Is it vending within the easements or is it roadside vending if its on private property off the road?” Mayor Gerald Taylor asked.
Councilman Bubba Powell advocated for protecting established businesses in Seven Points from the encroachment such activities may have on them. He was against roadside vending of any kind, anywhere.
“What about onetime sales, like when that man was selling stuff to raise money for a cancer treatment? He had a set up at The Auction, which grew into an every weekend thing,” Taylor said.
“Under a land-use permit, a person could sell from a temporary structure or vehicle on a piece of private property,” but that’s a temporary permit,” city secretary Debbie Mosley answered.
Councilman Tommy Taylor wanted to define roadside vending as any operations that was not paying for utilities, such as water and electricity.
“What if a private property owner has given permission for the activity and says they can use an extension cord and a water hose?” Mayor Taylor countered.
Laywell was all for guarding property owners rights to allow vending on their business-zoned property, even if it wasn’t selling things that their business license defines. “If it’s on private property, it’s not roadside vending,” he said.
“I can see that we need to establish some guidelines,” councilman Michael Lowe said and strongly suggested research into how other cities deal with the subject.
Finally, the council directed the mayor to enforce the zoning ordinance when it comes to discontinuance or abandonment of nonconforming use.

Grand jury indicts shooter
Monitor Staff Reports
KAUFMAN–The man who shot at what he believed were intruders crossing his front yard was indicted by a Kaufman grand jury last week.
Rural Kaufman resident W.C. Frosch, 74, sparked a series of events the night of March 1 when he shot Brandon Robinson, 15, from the window of his house.
Frosch was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The second-degree felony charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
Robinson was not critically wounded. The bullet struck the young man under his left arm.
Robinson was spending the night with Devin Nalls, 16, Frosch’s neighbor.
The two were crossing the yard to investigate some loud music from a party in a home on the other side of Frosch’s house, the boys told police.
Frosch said he felt justified in the action, because the boys were close to his window.
Devin’s mom June Nalls, a nurse, was killed while taking the two boys to the emergency room.
A vehicle driven by Agustin Renteria, 27, also of Kaufman, crossed the center line and struck her pickup truck head-on.
Mrs. Nalls was killed. The two boys survived the crash.
Renteria was later arrested on a charge of failure to stop and render aid, and a second charge of assault with a deadly weapon. His hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, June 19 in the 422 nd District Court.
Frosch will be tried in the 86th District Court.
Questions regarding whether Frosch’s actions would come under the “castle doctrine,” passed by the state Legislature during its last session, had been discussed.
However, law sponsor, Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, said the law was meant to be applied to situations of attack whether at home, work or in one’s car.

Energy independence
Eustace retirees use wind power to cut electric bills
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

EUSTACE–People have been using the wind to turn millwheels or pump water from the ground for centuries.
Using windmills to create electricity on a commercial scale has not worked as well, due to the up-front costs and power transmission difficulties involved, but new technology can enable rural homeowners to use modern “wind turbines” to cut their power bills year-round.
“We have a totally different view of the wind now,” rural Eustace resident Burton Love said Monday.
Back in February, Burton and Martel Love installed a modern “wind turbine” at their new home, located just off Farm-to-Market 316 on Eustace’s southwestern city limits.
There’s another very similar turbine in place off Peachtree Road and a third going up nearby, Burton Love said.
Costs and noise once were serious drawbacks for wind-generated power, but the Loves’ turbine is very quiet indeed – it’s inaudible inside the house and not noticeably loud even when one is standing at the base of the 50-foot tower.
“The wind speed has to be above a certain amount – 20 to 25 mph – before you can even hear the blades,” Burton said. “It takes a wind speed of 8 mph for the turbine to generate electricity, and it will continue to generate until the wind dies to less than 5 mph.”
“The early ones were noisy,” Martel said. “That was why they didn’t do well in England, because they scared the cows. We’ve got cows all around here, so we couldn’t be very noisy.
“We’ve been following (wind-generated power) for years, but they were prohibitive, cost-wise,” she added. “When we first looked at them five or six years ago, they were about $30,000.”
The Loves’ wind turbine cost right at $15,000 installed, which is actually on the high end, partly due to their taller tower, Charles Crumpley, president of Mesquite-based WeKnow Technologies, said Monday.
“We average about $12,500 to $13,000 on a 33-foot tower,” Crumpley said. “His (the Loves’) installation was higher than most. It really depends upon your site.”
The turbine itself, built by Southwest Wind Power in Flagstaff, Ariz., costs about $5,500, Burton Love said.
“One of the items you can’t tell about the cost (in advance) is the wiring to the house,” Love added. “Wiring costs about $10/foot. That’s the only unknown.”
Love said Crumpley’s firm was very cooperative and easy to work with, as was Trinity Valley Electric Co-op (TVEC), which installed a digital meter (at no cost) to monitor the Loves’ two-way transmission.
“They (WeKnow) did what they said they would do, and when they said they would do it,” Love said. “Charles works with a number of electrical contractors on installations.” Imperial Electric of Mesquite did the Loves’ hookup.
“We are the largest volume dealer in the United States, installing two to three turbines per day,” Crumpley said.
“Our installations are engineered top to bottom,” Crumpley added. “They’re designed to handle 140 mph winds.”
The turbine’s carbon-fiber blades are designed to last 25 to 30 years, and require only an annual visual inspection, which anyone can do, Crumpley said.
A critical aspect is the tower’s foundation – the Loves’ tower is bolted to a 5x5x5 cube of heavily reinforced concrete.
“If you open your car window and stick your hand out, you feel the wind pressure,” Crumpley said. “Now, think of standing up in a pickup with a 4x8 sheet of plywood. It’ll blow you right over. You need a lot of concrete to keep that in the ground.”
“You have to put the foundation in, and let it set at least 30 days before you can put the tower up,” Martel said. “It would shake a dock to pieces, so you can’t put it on a dock.”
“When they do the concrete base, they also do all the electrical connections,” Burton said. “If there are any (city) codes, it has to meet them.”
Once the foundation is ready, the tower can be erected and put into service within a matter of hours.
When the wind is blowing, the Loves’ turbine generates a maximum of 2.7 kilowatts. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s essentially free electricity going back into the power grid.
“The only time we sell electricity back to TVEC is when we generate more than what the house is drawing,” Burton Love said.
As a safety precaution, the turbine automatically shuts down in the event of a power failure.
“If lightning strikes a transformer out here, TVEC will cut off power to that section so crews can fix the problem,” Burton explained. “If the turbine was still generating, it would mean the wire was still ‘live,’ and that would be hazardous.”
“It also shuts off if the wind gets too high,” Martel said.
Crumpley said the typical Skystream 3.7 turbine, like the Loves’, generates between 400 and 750 kilowatt-hours per month, depending on the site.
“We get a new cheerleader for the cause with every installation,” Crumpley added. “People have been waiting for this.”
Crumpley said a site needs to be around a half-acre or more, with the tower (a) at least 20 feet above any obstructions or (b) at least 250 feet away from obstructions.
It helps if you’re outside a city, or in a city without too many restrictions on structure height, he said.
“If you’ve got an open field, you’re way ahead of the game,” he added.
Towers need to be able to tap the prevailing winds – north/northwest during colder months and south/southwest in the summer – to be practical, Crumpley said.
“If you’re by a lake, that changes everything,” he added.
WeKnow Technologies has a website at WeKnow.net, or e-mail windpower@weknow.net, or call the Mesquite office at (214) 452-3710.
“At current prices, we know it (the turbine) will take quite a while to pay itself off (maybe seven to 10 years),” Burton Love said, “but you also have to understand that prices may not stay at the current level.”
The Loves, both federal retirees (he from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, she from the U.S. Treasury Department), are both Metroplex natives, and both graduated from Dallas Sunset High School.
They moved to Cedar Creek Lake in 1996 to be closer to Martel’s mother, former Gun Barrel City mayor Helen Broome.
Looking back, Burton Love said he couldn’t think of any drawbacks to installing the wind turbine.
“The reason we did it was because our location might generate some interest and encourage others to look into it,” Burton said. “You’re not making quite as big of a carbon footprint.
“We’ve got the property, we’ve got the wind and we could (financially) do it, so it was the right thing to do,” he added.
“My wife is actually ‘greener’ than I am,” he confided. “That’s our third (Toyota) Prius in the garage.”


Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Martel and Burton Love stand near an electricity-generating
wind turbine atop a 50-foot tower next to their rural Eustace home.




 


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