November 13, 2007

County zoners to eye wind energy plans

When it comes to wind power, Kingman may be left in the dust. Scott Travis, the owner of Catchin’ Wind Windpower, plans to propose a small wind pilot program to the Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday.

He is requesting that the county change its current ordinances to allow electric power-generating windmills in residential areas.

Travis would like to institute a year-long trial run of his ordinance in the county.

According to his proposed ordinance, residential windmills could be no taller than 150 feet. They would be rated up to 100 kilowatts and only buildings on the same property as the windmill could use the energy gathered, unless the windmill was connected to the commercial electrical grid.

Then the owner of the property could bank power generated by the windmill against his electric bill.

Travis’ ordinance would limit the number of windmills allowed on a property.

Property owners with 40 acres or more would be allowed to have four windmills. Any more than that would require the County P&Z Department’s review.

Property owners with 30 acres would be allowed no more than three windmills, and those with five acres or more would be allowed a maximum of two.

Properties under five acres in size would be allowed only one.

All windmills would require a permit from the county P&Z before construction, as the windmill would have to meet any setback requirements, and it could not be built within a wash or utility easement or over property lines.

And it would have to meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

Travis’ proposed ordinance states that the blades of the windmill must not come within 20 feet of the ground or extend over a parking area, driveway or sidewalk.

It also states that all windmills must be equipped with a manual and automatic over-speed control to limit blade rotation during extremely high winds.

The windmills must not generate more than 90 decibels during the day and 83 during the night, according to the county’s zoning ordinances. According to the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association, a faint noise level is around 30 dB, about the same as whispering in a quiet library; moderate noise is between 40 and 50 dB, the same as a quiet room or a soft rainfall; very loud noise is between 60 and 80 dB, or between a normal conversation and an alarm clock; and extremely loud noise such as a lawn mower or a model airplane is between 90 and 110 dB. Noise reaches a painful level between 120 and 150 dB, which is similar to a jet aircraft taking off or the peak point of rock music.

Travis’ ordinance would require the removal – at the owner’s expense – of any windmill not operating or functioning for a year or more.

In order to receive a permit for a windmill, the property owner would have to file an application and include a site plan showing the dimensions of the property, the location of all buildings and outbuildings on the property, the proposed location of the windmill, and the location of the connection site.

The application would need to include a scale drawing of the windmill with its footings, guyed wires and tower, along with an electrical diagram to determine if it meets county electrical code.

Travis proposed a similar ordinance to the city of Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission in October. The plan was unanimously denied.

City Commissioners expressed concern over the height of the towers; noise generated by the windmill, bird kill and obstructed views.

City Commissioner Mike Schoeff said he would “hate to see” these turbines outside his windows.

Commission Chair Dorian Trahan didn’t feel that the city ordinance needed to be changed. Those wanting to install a windmill could apply for a Conditional Use Permit. The city zoning ordinance limits accessory structures on residential lots to no more than 35 feet to 15 feet depending on the size of the lot.

In order to get a CUP, a property owner must gain approval from all neighbors within 150 feet of his property.

The county does not impose height restrictions for windmills that are not used for agricultural purposes.

By Suzanne Adams
Miner Staff Writer

The Kingman Daily Miner

11 November 2007

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