Reduction in decibel level is key
Door County concluded almost a year’s worth of research on commercial wind turbines Tuesday with passage of a revised wind energy ordinance.
The Door County Board passed, 17-3, the ordinance that regulates commercial wind turbines in excess of 170 feet. Sturgeon Bay Supervisor Chuck Brann was absent.
The supervisors adopted the ordinance after reducing the outdoor sound level maximum requirement from 55 decibels to 50 decibels.
Sound made by a commercial turbine cannot exceed the 50 decibels for any period of time when measured outside at the property line of inhabited structures or places of “frequent public gathering,” according to the adopted ordinance.
Other than that change, the ordinance passed as recommended by the county’s Resource Planning Committee, which oversaw the yearlong revision process.
The ordinance allows commercial wind turbines to be constructed within 1,000 feet of inhabited structures, or two times the total wind turbine height, whichever is greater.
A move made during the county board meeting to increase this setback to 1,500 feet was defeated, 14-6.
The issues of sound and setbacks received the majority of the criticism during the county’s revision process, particularly from residents and officials from the town of Clay Banks.
The town is developing its own wind energy ordinance.
The new county ordinance is a revision of a wind energy ordinance that’s been on the books since 1999.
The county undertook the revision process early last year in conjunction with a local company’s plans to bring wind energy to Door County.
Community Wind Energy, LLC, intends to build small clusters of large commercial turbines on the Peninsula.
The new county ordinance is not “technically” a zoning ordinance, so it’s effective in all Door County towns, except those that adopt their own wind energy ordinances, explained Grant Thomas, corporation counsel.
“It will be effective in all unincorporated areas (towns), not just those that have adopted Door County zoning,” Thomas said.
Sturgeon Bay Supervisors Ken Fisher and Will Jeanquart voted against the ordinance, as did Chuck Gulley, supervisor for the village of Forestville, and parts of the towns of Forestville and Brussels.
Jeanquart’s contention was that the ordinance only addressed sound volume, not frequency.
“It’s sound that you feel, not necessarily hear, but it can surely affect your quality of life,” Jeanquart said.
Fisher said he’d support the ordinance only if the supervisors delayed the law’s effective date until July 1 to allow interested towns to develop their own wind energy ordinances.
Fisher’s motion to delay the ordinance’s effective date failed, 15-5
By Deb Fitzgerald
2 February 2008
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