GOSHEN — Plans by a South Bend company to use the city’s powerhouse along the millrace canal to produce electricity generated by water power have been postponed indefinitely following a meeting of the Goshen Redevelopment Commission Tuesday afternoon.
Central to the discussion is Falling Waters LLC, which went before the commission back in July seeking an agreement with the city to lease a portion of the powerhouse and the nearby canal bank for use in the establishment of a hydroelectric or hydrokinetic electric energy producing operation. Any electricity generated by the company would then be sold to NIPSCO.
According to the initial request, Falling Waters was seeking a 25-year lease agreement with the city for a portion of the powerhouse property located just west and north of the powerhouse building at a cost of $125 a month beginning Jan. 1.
As part of that agreement, Falling Waters would need to install several structures at the site. Structures proposed include a 12-by-12 foot building alongside the trailrace bank as well as several turbines with housings and electrical connections from the turbines to the new powerhouse and from the powerhouse to the extant NIPSCO power poles for delivery to the grid.
Due to concerns connected to the aesthetics of the proposal and the length of the requested 25-year lease, the request was tabled until the commission’s Sept. 10 meeting in order to allow Falling Waters time to develop some solid design proposals while also allowing the RDC time to establish an aesthetic standard for the project that was acceptable to everyone on the commission.
However, during the Sept. 10 meeting, additional questions were raised regarding the requested lease length and amount, leading to the tabling of the request for an additional 30 days.
According to Goshen Community Development Director Mark Brinson, the original lease proposed in the agreement included payment in lieu of taxes, which would be phased in over several years.
During the Sept. 10 meeting, however, that language was changed to a flat rate lease payment that would be phased in over a shorter period of time. There were also several additional changes made with regard to aesthetic changes to the area.
In light of those changes, Falling Waters LLC representative David Snyder requested that the commission table the matter until its next meeting as he had not anticipated the changes and desired a chance to meet with staff before an agreement was solidified.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Brinson informed the board that Snyder and Falling Waters LLC were still not ready to come before the board for final consideration and had requested an additional 30 days with which to solidify their final proposal.
“Since the last meeting, I did meet with David Snyder and the project engineer, and we went over the agreement and I explained to them why those changes were made, and what the financial impact was,” Brinson said. “The engineer said he wanted more time to go over the business plan and make some changes possibly.”
Due to the fact that the proposal had already been tabled twice before, commission member Jeremy Stutsman suggested that the commission vote to postpone the request indefinitely rather than table the request for a third time.
“If we table it, we have to bring it back at our next meeting,” Stutsman said. “If we postpone it, it can be when they bring it back to us.”
The commission agreed, and a motion was raised and approved to postpone the request until such a time as either the commission or Falling Waters LLC is ready to review it once again.