Summit Ridge Energy LLC received a conditional use permit (CUP) to build windmills and power structures in the town of Wells from the Monroe County Planning and Zoning Department Monday. Committee findings, permit conditions and an amendment to the Ridgeville permit were also mandated.
In a vote of 4-1, with Richard Yarrington as the only naysayer, the Planning and Zoning Department decided to allow construction of approximately seven windmills in Wells. The committee found that granting a conditional use permit would not unreasonably interfere with land use and development plans of Wells or Monroe County. Findings stated that “wind energy facilities are sufficient to preserve and protect the public health and safety” and that “the benefits to the general public exceed the burdens.”
Conditions added to the permit include blasting restrictions, removal obligations, FAA rules, and road repair and safety training reimbursements. Town officials and property owners with abutting land must be notified about any blasting for construction purposes. The wind facility owner must provide funding for removal of energy structures as a standby letter of credit that begins at $5,000 and doubles every five years until reaching $40,000. Summit Ridge Energy LLC will reimburse the county and town for any damages to roads during construction, and also for safety training needed for emergency service technicians. Lastly, each windmill must be sited in accordance with FAA Rules part 77, regarding unobstructed flight paths for existing public and private airstrips. This condition was added because of a private airstrip in the area.
An amendment, Wisconsin State Statute 66.0401, was also added to the Ridgeville conditional use permit and was included in the Wells permit. It states that no county, city, town or village can place a restriction on a solar or wind energy system unless the restriction:
-Serves to preserve or protect the public health or safety
-Does not significantly increase cost of the system or decrease its efficiency
-Allows for an alternative system of comparable cost and efficiency
The statute ensures that communities cannot deny or restrict the construction of renewable energy facilities without warrant.
Because the Ridgeville permit was amended on April 30, both Ridgeville and Wells have until May 21 to veto the conditional use permits. A public hearing for granting Summit Ridge LLC a permit in the town of Wilton is scheduled for May 24 at 7 p.m. It will be held in the Monroe County Courthouse Annex Meeting Room with map viewing and sign-up for oral testimony opening at 6:30 p.m.
By Keith Zukas
4 May 2007
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