A proposed high-voltage power line might run just west of the Baraboo-Wisconsin Dells Municipal Airport and could interfere with flight operations, city officials said Wednesday.
The officials recommended that the City Council voice strong concerns to federal aviation officials about the issue.
Members of the city's Administrative Committee held a discussion on the 345,000-volt Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project proposed by the American Transmission Co. If approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, Badger Coulee would carry power 150 miles between La Crosse and the Madison area.
ATC officials say they are just getting started in selecting the exact route the line of towers - which will stand as tall as 150 feet - should take.
Possible routes run as far east as Columbia County, along the I-90/94 corridor, and paralleling Highway 12 past the airport, Baraboo and West Baraboo and south through the Baraboo Bluffs.
City Administrator Edward Geick said the proposed Badger Coulee route, following Highway 12, comes within about 3,200 feet of the northwest end of the airport's grass airstrip. The airport's paved main landing strip runs largely north and south.
The committee is the city body that supervises airport operations. Chairman Gene Robkin said he is concerned about possible impact of Badger Coulee on airport operations. For example, the power line might cause anxiety for pilots using the grass strip, also called a cross wind runway.
"It seems clear there would be a psychological issue for a pilot trying to land at the airport if a good part of the final stages of the approach were right above the rather tall power line towers," he wrote in a memo appealing for action. "Landings for jets that I've been on or observed all seem to use long, shallow approaches."
Baraboo City Clerk Cheryl Giese said there are plans to pave the grass airstrip at some point in the future, an improvement which will increase the airstrip's number of flights.
Robkin said he raised concerns about impact on the airport during an ATC open house in Wisconsin Dells late last month. Transmission company officials assured him they don't expect any problems.
"Whether that was soft soap or reality, I don't know," Robkin said.
Geick noted that one variation of Badger Coulee's route takes it south of the city, through land Baraboo's comprehensive plan identifies as an area for future growth and development.
"Another reason for concern is it does affect a lot of very good farmland," he said.
After discussion, committee members voted unanimously to recommend the council ask Mayor Patrick Liston to write a strong letter to the Federal Aviation Administration and Wisconsin utility regulators voicing the city's concern about Badger Coulee's route.
During the open house in Wisconsin Dells, an ATC spokeswoman said the firm will hold a second round of public information meetings next spring, after it has selected the most likely routes for the power line. The company expects to file its application to build the Badger Coulee line with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in early 2013, she said.
If it wins PSC approval, construction of the line is scheduled to begin in 2016 and it would switch on in 2018, according to ATC documents provided to committee members.
• In other business the Administration Committee recommended the city adopt a minimum $50 charge for cases in which a city contractor performs weed abatement on a property when the owner fails to do so. Presently, the city is charging property owners actual costs at 9 cents per square foot plus a 10 percent charge for administrative costs, with no minimum charge.
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