County proposal sets more limitations
Currituck commissioners tonight will consider a new ordinance that could pave the way for the installation of electricity-generating wind turbines throughout the county.
Commissioners are being asked to consider two proposals that would allow residents and business owners the ability to generate their own electricity.
One, recommended by county staffers and the Currituck Planning Commission, requires the applicant to receive a special-use permit to install a wind turbine. Under the proposal, wind turbines would be subject to setback, design and height restrictions.
The other proposal, put forward by East Coast Windpower, a company that wants to install wind turbines, would allow turbines in all zoning districts without a special use permit, but restrict their height to 60 feet.
Alvin Keel, a Knotts Island resident who is co-chairman of the county’s Planning Commission, said Monday that he hopes commissioners go along with the ordinance recommended by the Planning Board and staff.
He said planning board members developed restrictions out of concern that turbines could be strung up on small lots throughout neighborhoods, creating an eyesore.
“There needed to be some control on it,” he said. “One of my concerns was what it would look like if we had a 100-lot subdivision and 100 turbines.”
He said smaller turbines cost in the $15,000 range, but as they become more popular, the price could drop, thereby increasing the number of Currituck residents who want to buy them.
Currituck’s strong coastal winds are quickly turning the county into a magnet for companies hoping to sell electricity-generating wind turbines. Several companies have expressed interest in selling turbines in Currituck, including one headquartered in Spain and another from Maryland.
County staff’s latest proposal restricts the height of turbines based on the lot size, and establishes setbacks between turbines and occupied buildings, highways, and public right of way.
Under staff’s proposal, a small system would require a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet, and the turbine could be no taller than 120 feet. In that case, the required minimum setback between an occupied building and the turbine would have to be 180 feet.
A large system would require a minimum lot size of five acres, and allow a turbine no taller than 250 feet. The setback between the turbine and occupied building would have to be at least 500 feet.
The setback between a turbine and U.S. Highway 158, N.C. Highway 168, and N.C. Highway 12 would have to be 750 feet.
A utility-scale facility would have to have a minimum lot size of 25 acres, and the turbine could be no taller than 500 feet. The setback between occupied building and the turbine would have to be 750 feet.
The county’s ordinance gives property owners the right to seek a waiver from the setback requirement. But all nearby property owners that would be affected by the wind turbine would have to agree to the waiver.
County staff’s proposed ordinance also delves into the aesthetics of turbines, saying at a minimum, they have to have a “galvanized finish and be a non-obtrusive color such as white, off-white, or gray.”
Under the staff’s recommendation, residents and businesses wishing to install a turbine would also have to present a site plan showing, among other things, the planned location of each wind turbine, property lines, setback lines, access roads and electrical cabling.
Commissioners are scheduled to discuss the turbine proposals in a workshop at 6:30 p.m. and vote on the issue at their 7 p.m. meeting in commission chambers.
By John Henderson
22 January 2008
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