Power Line Controversy Comes to a Head

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Members of the Vicksburg Village Council join with citizens at the village council meeting who support the railroad track route for the new power line proposed for the Vicksburg to Schoolcraft corridor. Left to right: John Kern, Colin Bailey, Rudy Callen, Jackie Koney, Bill Adams, the power company representative Mark Robinson, Caroline Cady, Mark Maki, Steve Goss, Julie Merrill, Matt Shankle, Gail Reisterer, Tim Frisbie, James Earl, Jim Mallery.

By Sue Moore

A window for comments about a proposed backup electrical transmission line between Schoolcraft and Vicksburg closed a few days ago. Residents along the two proposed routes are waiting to learn which of two routes Indiana Michigan Power (IMP) will choose.

The plan calls for a second 69-kilovolt transmission line between the communities. The existing line mostly follows the CN railroad between a Vicksburg substation south of VW Avenue and the existing substation north of the tracks in Schoolcraft.

Although the new line will be built mostly along W Avenue from Portage Road west to a new substation north of the existing one in Schoolcraft, the utility is presenting two alternatives from east of Portage Road into Vicksburg.

One follows the tracks from the Vicksburg substation to the grade crossing at W Avenue. The other extends south from the substation across the Simpson mill property, then west on W to the tracks.

From there, both proposed routes follow the tracks south of W for a few hundred feet west of the grade crossing, then jog north back to W east of Portage Rd.

A spokeswoman for the utility’s parent company, AEP, was asked if the second line mostly along W Avenue is needed because the existing transmission line is considered vulnerable to railroad mishaps. “Not necessarily,” she said. While she acknowledged that there is one short segment where both lines would parallel the tracks, it’s preferable to have a second line on a different route. “It’s not that the railroad route is especially vulnerable.”

A public presentation by representatives of the company took place in Schoolcraft in January. Company representative Mark Robinson attended the Vicksburg Village Council in February to explain the two routes and seek feedback.

He got plenty from Mark Maki, a resident of the Greensborough neighborhood, and Jackie Koney of Paper City. Both testified that the sight of the 69-kilovolt line would directly impact their distinctly unique properties. Maki cited the need to preserve the village gateway on W Ave. when travelling east, as a good impression coming into the village. He spoke of the unsightliness of the poles and transmission wires overhead and the impact it could have on the land values and the sale of the remaining vacant lots in the subdivision, since they would be located at the entrance.

Koney stressed the impact the high wires would have on the wetlands, the nature setting of the mill and its environs, especially the blue heron rookery on the property which would be bisected by the W Avenue route.

Maki and Koney opposed the routing of the new power line along W Avenue. “We prefer the route along the railroad grade,” Koney said. The council instructed the village manager to work with this citizens group to determine what if any action the village should take.

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