Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday adopting a county-wide ordinance regarding on-site wind turbines.
The move actually revised the Huron County Zoning Ordinance by adding language that clarified the use of “overlay” zoning techniques on land in the Agricultural District and providing standards for on-site wind energy systems (wind turbine towers) and related wind assessment devises.
The amendment allows for on-site turbines – that are not for commercial purposes – and would not require a special use permit, said Russell R. Lundberg, director of building and zoning.
Lundberg previously told the Huron Daily Tribune the amendment has been a long-standing goal of the Huron County Planning Commission because it already had adopted rules for commercial wind turbines.
“Now we’re doing something basically for the individuals as well – it gives them the same opportunities for alternate energy systems,” he said in a Sept. 7 article. “Because the amendment (allows) the smaller turbine wind-energy uses anywhere in the district … without having to jump through a lot of hoops to do it.”
The county has anticipated some local interest in on-site wind turbines, Lundberg said.
“There has been some discussion that there’s others interested,” he said. “There’s two users out there – there’s the home-business-farmer client and then there’s the individual who’s just interested in generating his own electricity. Lundberg said the draft amendment, which was modeled after the language in Oliver Township’s ordinance, requires that prior to installation of an on-site wind energy system, an application for a site permit – which includes a project description and site plan, among other things – must be filed and subsequently approved by the zoning administrator.
“The site permit fee is $35, which is a typical site permit application fee, and the building permit fee is going to be placed on the fee structure that’s already in place for wind turbines, and that’s $10 per foot of tower,” Lundberg said. “So let’s say it’s 80 feet tall … if you multiply that by $10, the fee is going to be $800 for a building permit – which is equivalent to a fee for a large new home.”
He said someone who submits an application fee with all of the necessary documentation, could walk away with the site and building permits for a wind turbine that day because it would not have to go through the Planning Commission for review and approval.
The ordinance does, however, subject the on-site wind energy systems and related wind site assessment devices to some conditions, Lundberg said. First, an on-site use wind energy system is designed and intended to primarily serve the needs of the on-site consumer.
For siting purposes, the amendment reads any on-site wind energy system with a tip height (meaning the height of the tower, including the top of the blade in its vertical position) of 150 feet or higher shall be considered a large-scale wind energy conversion facility.
The amendment says the distance between turbines and anemometer towers – which are used to conduct wind site assessments for possible installation of an on-site wind energy system – and a road or public right-of-way must be at least one-and-a-half times the tip height.
The distance between an on-site wind energy turbine and the owner’s property lines also must be one-and-a-half times the tip height, although exceptions for neighboring properties would be allowed with the written consent of those property owners which must be submitted when applying for the site permit. Regarding sound pressure levels, an on-site wind energy system shall not exceed 55 dBA at the property line closest to the system, but exceptions do exist if the written consent of neighboring property owners is obtained.
The sound pressure level may be exceeded during short-term events such as utility outages and/or severe wind storms.
The amendment requires all on-site wind energy systems to comply with state and federal connection codes, towers and interconnections standards. As for safety, the systems would be required to have lighting protection and a governing system to prevent uncontrolled rotation or over speeding, and the minimum vertical blade tip clearance from grade must be 20 feet for a wind energy system employing a horizontal axis rotor.
By Kate Finneren “¢ (989) 269-6461 “¢ firstname.lastname@example.org
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