With their town sitting in one of Wisconsin’s prime areas for generating electricity from windmills, town of Holland officials took the first steps Monday night toward developing an ordinance to regulate wind energy projects.
The Town of Wrightstown already has an ordinance on the books, while the towns of Morrison, Glenmore and Rockland continue to wrestle with the issue.
The Holland Planning Board and Town Board met jointly to discuss such an ordinance, but took no action. The discussion focused on four primary issues:
# Where the windmills could be located, and what setbacks would be required.
# What money would be set aside in case the wind farms are abandoned and the windmills have to be removed.
# Regulation of the noise created by the windmills when their blades are spinning.
# What compensation the town should receive for hosting wind energy systems.
The town has copies of several possible ordinances to consider, including one developed in Pennsylvania. The rest are from Wisconsin.
The Planning Board members agreed to study the model ordinances and will discuss them at 7 p.m. July 16 at the Holland Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public, and supervisors invited residents to attend and give their input.
“This is a one-time deal, so we’d better get it right,” Town Clerk Bill Clancy said.
Budd Gerrits, who chairs the planning board, said a map showing the areas of the state which are best for wind generation of electricity indicates the Niagara escarpment from Fond du Lac north is ideal.
“This is the most optimum area in the state of Wisconsin,” Gerrits said, with an average wind speed of 16½ to 17 mph. “From Green Bay to Fond du Lac along the ridge is optimal.”
The ledge, which runs from Scray’s Hill in Ledgeview and south through the towns of Rockland, Glenmore, Wrightstown and Holland, is part of the Niagara escarpment.
Gerrits said he is familiar with the development of wind farms in Calumet County, where his company, Country Aire Farms, owns land.
“They limit setbacks and the distances between wind turbines,” he said. “Some people (will) have as many as 10 on their property.”
Gerrits said he would not allow wind turbines on his property until he had the approval of adjoining property owners.
Planning Board member Bob Rotzenberg said he understands that wind energy firms also want windmills to be close enough that they can be wired together for the collection of the electricity generated by the turbines.
Town Chairman Jerry Wall said he had checked out a wind energy farm in Mayville, and was told by a homeowner that “they drive you crazy when you are sitting out at night.”
The final OK for wind farms rests with individual landowners, Gerrits said. Wind energy companies must negotiate with landowners and get their approval to erect windmills.
“If the majority of our residents said no (to locating windmills on their property), they would have to go somewhere else,” Gerrits said.
By Ed Byrne
Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers
Ed Byrne is the editor of the Wrightstown Post-Gazette
3 July 2007
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