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Townships trying to regulate turbines, abide by law  

Apparently, adult bookstores and wind farms have something in common.

Judges have ruled repeatedly that a community can put restrictions on where sexually oriented adult businesses can locate.

But the same judges have said that officials cannot make those restrictions so tight as to eliminate the possibility of the stores’ existence.

Now, prosecutors in two counties where residents are railing against large-scale wind turbines for green energy say the same concept applies to wind farms.

“Courts have generally held that regulation which prohibits the use of land in certain ways is an unconstitutional use of police power unless necessary for the health and safety” of residents, Logan County Prosecutor Gerald Heaton wrote in a recent opinion to the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission.

“Any regulations which purport to reasonably regulate the use of wind turbines when, in fact, they prevent their use, would fall into this category.”

Based on Heaton’s opinion, and a similar one from the Champaign County prosecutor’s office, the planning commission recommended that local township zoning boards turn down proposed regulations for the wind towers.

Jefferson Township in Logan County and Union Township in Champaign County already have. Officials in Logan County’s Rushcreek Township did not decide on a course of action at a meeting Thursday.

In Jefferson and Union townships, the matter of the proposed regulations now goes to the boards of trustees.

Tom Stacy is one of several people leading the charge against at least five energy companies that want to put wind turbines, which can be as tall as 400 feet, on private property in Logan and Champaign counties. The companies are courting landowners.

Stacy says the prosecutors’ opinions have nothing to do with the zoning proposal developed by his citizens group, Save Western Ohio, because it is not too restrictive.

“The opinion was based on a ban of these wind turbines,” Stacy said. “And we’re not trying to ban them. We want to control them.”

Stacy’s group wants any wind towers in the area to be set back at least 950 feet from adjoining property lines, and 1,450 feet from any inhabitable buildings. In addition, they want the towers to be less than 260 feet tall, a height less than what the interested companies seek to put in the area.

The issue extends beyond western Ohio.

At least one state legislator says he sees an emerging need for a statewide regulation to become a guideline for cities and townships where officials want to bring in wind energy.

Ohio Rep. Matt Lundy, a Democrat from Elyria in northeastern Ohio, said he will soon ask Gov. Ted Strickland’s office and the Ohio Department of Development to help host a series of public meetings on how best to regulate wind turbines. Then, he hopes to introduce legislation early next year that could serve as a zoning-regulation framework for townships and cities.

“We have to move forward on this,” said Lundy, who sits on the House’s alternative energy committee. “My hope is that legislation would say ‘If you want to embrace wind energy, here’s how to do it.'”

By Holly Zachariah

The Columbus Dispatch

3 June 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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