TOWN OF MENASHA – The town Monday night took a step toward adoption of a wind energy ordinance while also rejecting a permit for a wind turbine demonstration project.
On a 4-0 vote, the Town Board rejected a conditional use permit requested by Soul Purpose Ministry to install 36 small wind turbines on an industrial site on Northern Road off U.S. 41.
The denial was recommended by the town Planning Commission last week due to a lack of details requested for several months to ensure the structural integrity of the plans to place wind turbines on top of steel pipes 120 tall.
Monday afternoon, Tom Newton of Manitowoc submitted more detailed plans but Community Development Director George Dearborn said that did not provide time for review by the town engineer. Newton, a co-applicant, again asked that conditional approval be granted contingent upon state approval, but to no avail.
Afterward, Newton said he was disappointed but resolved to proceed.
“We are submitting the plans to the state and, with state approval, as long as we use the electricity on the property, they won’t be able to stop us from putting it up,” he said.
The proposed town wind energy ordinance, which will come back to the board for final approval Feb. 12, allows wind turbines 75 feet or less in height with “certain requirements for safety as well as placement,” Dearborn said. Taller turbines will have additional requirements “that will make them safe but still encourage them,” he said.
Town officials encouraged Newton to reapply for the permit. Supv. Kate McQuillan said the structural details were important for the commission and the board “to insure public safety. This is not about not liking wind turbines,” she said.
The permit was needed because Soul Purpose Ministry, a nonprofit Christian group, had plans to sell the electricity produce to help fund its activities.
The denial now goes to the Winnebago County Planning and Zoning Committee on Jan. 30.
By Michael King
Post-Crescent staff writer
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