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Friday, August 20, 2010

Rothschild residents sound off on biomass proposal

From an article by Kathleen Foody in the Wausau Daily Herald:

ROTHSCHILD -- The village Board of Appeals gave advocates of a controversial proposed biomass plant a boost Thursday, approving the installation of stacks and a boiler building higher than village ordinances typically permit.

About 275 residents attended the hearing at the Rothschild Pavilion, but the crowd had dwindled to double digits after about five hours of testimony.

The ultimate question of the hearing was whether the height of four structures proposed in the site plans was detrimental to the village. But opponents and proponents discussed air quality, noise, truck traffic and other issues that routinely have been raised since the $250 million project was announced in September 2009.

"When we built our homes here, we all knew what the rules were," Rothschild resident Thomas Jessup said during the hearing. "With this plant, we just don't know enough. I'm all for jobs and those are all good people working at Domtar, but there's not enough information."

Most opponents began their testimony with "I live in Rothschild," and asked the board not to make an exception in the village's height limits and to remember residents in their deliberations.

Joe Twaroski, who has worked at the Domtar mill for 28 years, went to the hearing in support of the biomass project and to "put a face" on the paper producer's employees.

He said he's one of the mill employees constantly monitoring emissions and finding a solution for any unusual readings.

We Energies and Domtar presented data backing the variances during the hearing. Experts on air quality, property values, traffic and construction of the plant gave individual presentations.

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