After six months of study, town of Clay Banks officials plan to complete a wind energy ordinance by spring that will help ensure residents’ health and safety.
Clay Banks Wind Energy Committee Chairman Mike Johnson presented outlines of ordinances used in Shawano County and the community of Stockbridge Saturday, Nov. 10, that they can use to help craft an ordinance.
“We would like to wrap up on an ordinance by March or April,” Johnson said.
The committee established a residential building setback of a half-mile or 2,640 feet limit, as well as setbacks of 1,000 feet from neighboring property lines.
Residents need to take a second look at the setbacks for wind turbines, said Doug Weimer, a committee member.
The Door County ordinance has setbacks of not less than twice the total height of the turbine or 1,000 feet or whichever is greater from an inhabited structure.
The setback from a neighboring property line is 1.1 times the total height of a wind turbine.
“We have to protect the citizens – the health and welfare of the citizens of Clay Banks,” Weimer said. “I don’t think a setback of a quarter of a mile or 1.1 times the height of the turbine is going to work.”
He and another committee member, Kris Jensen, said Europeans who have used wind turbines to generate energy for several years, have been increasing setbacks and moving wind farms offshore to take advantage of grater wind velocities.
“Setbacks are increasing for a reason,” Weimer said. “They’re trying to address them now by increasing setbacks.”
Similar to public buildings built for handicap accessibility, setbacks must be established that protect people with the greatest needs, according to Jensen.
Setbacks ultimately could affect people who buy rural lots for home construction, said Tom Hintz, another committee member.
If setbacks for unoccupied buildings are increased, Weimer said it could prevent some residential construction from taking place.
“Who accepts this liability? Is it the developer or the town?” Weimer asked.
The committee established limits for roads and transmission lines of 1,000 feet or three times the total height of a turbine, whichever is greater.
The committee also set a 1,000 foot setback limit from wetlands and water bodies.
Clay Banks has several acres of wetlands, including sections of seven watersheds, Johnson said.
Wind turbine foundations should be no deeper than nine feet to protect lateral flow of water. The committee will research that issue in the next few months.
Mark Heimbecher, another committee member, suggested adoption of a one-mile setback from scenic areas, a move supported by the committee.
That setback applies to town, county and state parks, recreational areas and rest areas, as well as any town, county and state properties.
“I think scenic setbacks are important,” Johnson said. “It’s for relaxation and it’s for the public. People don’t want to be sitting in these places and listen to wind turbines.”
The committee also is looking at a more restrictive ordinance to address noise.
The county has established a limit of 50 decibels near any residential or related areas. If an audible sound can be heard in the area, the limit is 45 decibels.
The town’s proposal sets more stringent standards based on high and low frequency sounds when measured outside of any inhabited structure.
“Our noise standards also are different from what the county is proposing,” Johnson said. “The allowances permissible under our ordinance are more restrictive.”
By Kurt Rentmeester
14 November 2007
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