Lyon County’s planning and zoning commission is recommending county commissioners approve the largest wind tower project planned for the county.
The commission approved a continuation of a meeting Friday afternoon recommending approval of four conditional use permits for nine wind towers on sites in Sodus Township. Missouri River Energy will receive the energy and provide it to Marshall Municipal Utilities.
Commissioners meet Tuesday. Friday’s meeting was a continuation of Wednesday night’s commission meeting where several wind tower issues were raised and discussed.
“We’re basing this on the best information we have at the time,” county zoning administrator John Biren said Friday.
After the meeting, Biren said he will not ask the county board or the planning and zoning commission to make any changes in the new wind energy ordinance, although one county resident has asked the county to change the new ordinance.
Biren said the new ordinance is good, and the state will also have new legislation in January on wind energy.
County resident Scott Riddlemoser had asked the county to make the new wind energy ordinance more strict and said the RAHN projects should meet stricter road-right-of-way setbacks, noise level in relation to neighboring property setbacks and other issues.
Riddlemoser said he lives just more a mile from one of the planned wind towers and shared his concerns about the county’s existing wind tower ordinance and new ordinance at Wednesday’s meeting. The county’s setbacks to road right-of-way at 300 feet are too short, he said Wednesday.
The setbacks addressing noise are also too short, Riddlemoser had said. Discussion on the CUP applications from the RAHN Group was continued until Friday to allow RAHN to address some of Riddlemoser’s concerns and to provide additional information to the commission. Charlie Daum, an analyst for RAHN, said the projects meet or exceed county ordinance requirements and should alleviate Riddlemoser’s concerns.
“At all times, we fit the county ordinance with room to spare,” Daum said.
The nearest wind tower is to a road right-of-way is 415, Daum said. That’s more than the about 406 foot towers planned for each site, Daum said.
Riddlemoser had said he setbacks from public roads need to at least accommodate the height of a wind tower and be farther than the county’s required 300 feet. The county requires towers to be at minimum 750 feet from a residence.
The closest tower to a residence is 1,177 feet, Daum said.
“As you can see, we well exceeded 750 feet in all cases,” Daum said.
At RAHN’s closest-to-a-residence setback distance, the decibel range will be 40 to 44 decibels, Daum said.
“We never exceed 44 decibels on any of these sites,” Daum said.
Riddlemoser said Wednesday the setbacks should accommodate 50 decibels heard at property lines, not at a residence, which would require a different setback than 750 feet.
Biren said he wanted to make sure the site measurements included in RAHN’s CUP applications were not changed.
The commission followed Biren’s recommendation to have RAHN provide accurate site measurements before construction. The condition did not specify the measurements RAHN included in the CUP applications. Biren said after the meeting the intent is to have RAHN use the same figures it provided in the CUP. The county board could change that condition to be more specific on measurements if it wanted, Biren said.
Biren said because RAHN has already applied for some federal permits with those exact figures in the CUP, he’s not worried any measurements will change in the future.
The wind wake issue on how towers can diminish the wind downwind and cause neighboring property owners to lose the ability to get wind for other towers will be better addressed in the future by the state, Biren said.
Riddlemoser said Wednesday the county ordinances, old and new, do not adequately address wind wake issues.
Biren said after Friday’s meeting he doesn’t believe the county should be responsible for wind wake issues.
“I see more expertise coming from the state on that,” Biren said. “Part of it is the need to study the issue to see the actual implications downwind.”
Legislation will also come in January on wind energy, and that would be the time to change the new wind energy ordinance if change is needed, Biren said.
By Rae Kruger
17 March 2007
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