Some residents looking to embrace alternative energy sources have found that Carroll County’s zoning laws are still catching up.
But things could be changing.
A zoning amendment regulating the installation of small windmills or wind turbines will go to public workshop and public hearing after the Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted to move forward with the process Thursday.
Ralph Green, director of the Department of General Services, said the amendment comes after residents and companies asked for information on having the wind systems in the county.
A group made up of staff from the Bureau of Permits and Inspections, the Bureau of Development Review, the county attorney’s office, the zoning administration, as well as a member of the Environmental Advisory Council met over six weeks to come up with the zoning amendment.
Dan Andrews, an EAC member, said the group looked at ordinances from across the country in forming the proposal.
“We’re all learning about this technology. It’s new,” he said.
The amendment requires setbacks to be at least the height of the tower plus an additional 20 feet from property lines, overhead utilities and roads, among others. Other sections of the amendment set standards for lighting, noise, appearance, location and when a tower is considered abandoned.
The amendment also requires property owners receive approval from the state’s Public Service Commission before constructing a wind energy system.
Tom Williams, owner of Freedom Energy Solutions, said he approached the county about what it would take to have wind turbines. The Westminster-based company specializes in renewable energy, in particular solar, wind and geothermal.
Williams said he is getting a lot of interest from residents about the technology.
During the meeting the commissioners raised concerns about some of the particulars in the amendment.
Green said those concerns and others raised by residents would be addressed.
“It’s our first shot at it,” Green said. “This is the start of the process we need to go through.”
County Attorney Kimberly Millender said a public hearing should be scheduled within the next month and will be advertised for two weeks prior. Part of the county’s process is to hold a public workshop where residents can ask questions about a week before the hearing.
By Beth Ward
Times Staff Writer
21 March 2008
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