Although Door County’s 1999 wind energy ordinance is seen as one of the state’s most restrictive, County Planner Mariah Goode said proposed revisions will make it even more rigorous for developers.
The measure, which details definitions, permit procedures, energy system requirements, administration and enforcement, was put together when there were few references on the issue, she said.
Last fall, Goode told the Door County Resource Planning Committee that the county’s ordinance needed to be overhauled.
The committee began looking at the issue in March.
“We are relaxing the setbacks to follow the numbers in the state model and eliminating references to visuals and aesthetics,” Goode said. “But we’re adding a lot of things that weren’t in the current ordinance.”
Turbine height would be increased from more than 100 feet in the current ordinance to at least 170 feet in the revision, for example, according to Becky Kerwin, a planner with the department.
The proposal adds setbacks from critical communication lines, requiring a half mile or 500-foot distance from the line of sight between two communications structures.
The measure lists setbacks from public and private roads, occupied structures, commercial and electric lines and property lines.
Applicants also would have to complete studies for sound, shadow flicker and blade glint and submit a study showing the facility would not interfere with critical communication systems.
In the future, they also would have to notify the municipality, Federal Aviation Adminstration (FAA), sheriff, local airports, emergency services, Door County Planning Committee, Sturgeon Bay police and fire departments. Also, state Bureau of Aeronautics, as well as schools and municipalities within a mile of its boundaries.
Currently, if an applicant seeks to site a wind turbine, the RPC would have to comply under the provisions of the 1999 ordinance, which does not consider such aspects as noise, shadow flicker and signal interference, Goode said.
The current draft is expected to go before the RPC Aug. 16, Kerwin said. The committee could request further changes at that time.
A public hearing on a final proposal will be held before the end of the year before it goes to the Door County Board of Supervisors.
Merrell Lundquist, a county supervisor who heads the RPC said that while a public hearing is not required, one is planned to give residents a chance to speak on the issue.
“People jump to conclusions,” Lundquist said. “You have to be compliant with state requirements. As you know, the government is strongly pushing wind energy and alternative energy sources.”
Another member of the RPC, County Supervisor Bob Ryan, who also represents the town of Clay Banks, could not be reached for comment.
Some Clay Banks Windmill Planning Committee members believe the state is pushing wind energy.
Member Doug Weimer wants RPC members to see all sides of the issue.
“It’s a moot point whether you’re in favor of or against turbines,” he said. “If the state is pushing this, it’s important the county does it right (with a county ordinance that takes all aspects into account). It doesn’t seem to be.”
All Door County municipalities should be concerned about what people don’t know about turbines, such as the potential for emergency signal interference, member Tom Hintz said.
Right now, the Clay Banks committee is one of the few asking questions about health and safety, he said.
“I think we’re doing the job the county should be,” Hintz said. “It seems like the county would be real quick to adopt the state ordinance. I don’t think that takes into consideration the safety and well-being of residents of the state.”
By Kurt Rentmeester
8 August 2007
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