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Wausau approves biomass plant height variances

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A rendering of what a proposed biomass power plant near the Domtar paper mill in Rothschild will look like  (Photo courtesy We Energies)
A rendering of what a proposed biomass power plant near the Domtar paper mill in Rothschild will look like (Photo courtesy We Energies)

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – Wausau’s zoning board of appeals has unanimously approved two height variances for a proposed biomass power plant in Rothschild.

We Energies and Domtar are seeking an 85-foot variance from the city’s airport height limitation ordinance for its 265-foot tall biomass boiler stack and a 30-foot variance for its 210-foot tall auxiliary boiler stack.

Extraterritorial zoning powers give the city control over structure heights in surrounding municipalities because of their impact on the Wausau downtown airport, which is in city limits. Wausau chief zoning administrator Roger Sydow says those variences were the only thing the city could rule on. "We can't deny this because we don't like the look of the plant, or any other reason, it's got to be if it's safe for airplane travel." 

Rothschild’s zoning board of appeals has already granted four height variances and approved the power plant’s site plan.

The state Public Service Commission, which must give final approval to the project, has said that there is no need for an environmental impact statement.

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