The Morrow County commissioners appear ready to approve regulations to control the placement of wind turbines, a source of green energy that has proved controversial elsewhere in the state.
At a hearing yesterday, commissioners discussed changes to the county’s zoning regulations that would, among other things, establish a permitting procedure for the wind turbines and, to some degree, control where they could go.
Several wind companies, Commissioner Olen Jackson said, are interested in putting the turbines in two townships in which zoning is controlled by the county: Congress and North Bloomfield.
No one at the hearing seemed opposed to the regulations, but that’s not always been the case elsewhere. In Logan County, for example, a group of landowners has argued against regulations for the turbines because the property owners say officials are being too lenient with their rules. One zoning fight went all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court.
In Morrow County, commissioners are studying regulations proposed by the county zoning board. Jackson said a vote might come as soon as Monday.
If approved, the rules would require a permit for turbines from the county zoning board. The regulations also establish that the turbines, which can be as tall as 400 feet, must be at least 1,000 feet from any primary structure and must be at least 1.1 times the height of the tower away from any roads or public rights of way.
At the request of landowners, however, the commissioners are considering establishing an appeals process so those restrictions sometimes could be waived.
Jackson said county officials are thinking ahead by debating the regulations now before any potential conflict arises among neighbors.
“When these turbines have been discussed in other places, they have gotten close to being violent,” Jackson said. “We’re not to that point, thank God.”
New data released last year by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory showed that some portions of Morrow County have high potential for generating wind energy.
Commissioner Richard Miller agreed the regulations are critical.
“I don’t think anybody’s attempting to stop these things,” he said of the turbines. “It’s a property-rights issue. We just want to be sure that we do it right.”
By Holly Zachariah
20 February 2008
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