Noxen Township board of supervisors Tuesday night approved a wind-park ordinance that has also received the approval of BP Alternative Energy.
“It’s just a good workable ordinance that everybody can be happy with,” BP project manager Kevin Davis said. “It addresses the township’s concerns as well as our concerns.”
The ordinance sets minimum standards for setbacks from various features, application requirements, including environmental analyses and damage mitigation plans, and ensures money will exist to remove the turbines when the permits expire.
The turbines must be at least:
• 2,000 feet from any school, hospital, church or public library.
• 500 feet from occupied buildings and property lines.
• Five times the “hub height” from occupied buildings owned by anyone not involved in the wind park project. Hub height is defined as the distance from the ground to the top of the turbine base.
• 1.1 times the “turbine height” from public roads. Turbine height is defined as the hub height, plus the distance to the highest point a turbine blade reaches.
The application fee is $2,500 per turbine.
The ordinance reflects many of the sections of a similar ordinance in Bear Creek Township, which is withstanding judicial inspection in a legal case that has been appealed to the state Supreme Court.
One key omission, however, is expansive regulations on aesthetics. The Bear Creek ordinance makes specific references to maximum turbine height, creation of a project visibility map and computer-enhanced simulations of the site, and building turbines below visible ridgelines when able “to minimize the visual contrast from any public access.”
The Noxen ordinance requires “reasonable efforts” to reduce shadow flicker from turbine blades, which the Bear Creek one doesn’t, but otherwise omits the other aesthetics guidelines.
While Bear Creek prohibits interference with electromagnetic signals, such as television and radio waves, Noxen employs the “reasonable efforts” standard.
“We don’t have any TV stations or anything of that nature … so we never even discussed that,” Supervisor Carl Shook said. Such a prohibition existed in the township’s original draft ordinance, he said, but “through all the revisions, we just sort of took it out.”
Shook said he is satisfied with the relationship with BP. “Kevin’s (Davis) been more than cooperative. … Whether I believe in wind turbines or not, it’s been a good experience working with these guys,” he said.
Davis estimated the turbines the company’s considering have a turbine height of about 410 feet. By comparison, the Bear Creek turbines’ heights are about 400 feet.
BP’s proposed facility would include sites in Eaton and Forkston townships, as well. Davis said that BP approves of the wind-park ordinance in Eaton and that Forkston doesn’t have one.
He said one anemometer is already recording wind speeds in the area and others are being installed.
By Rory Sweeney
6 October 2007
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