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Commission considers turbine policy

The City of Fergus Falls is well on its way to adopting a policy regarding the installation of commercial and private wind turbines.

Wind Energy Conservation Systems (WECS) were the order of business at Monday’s Planning Commission meeting, where members approved an ordinance that may see a first reading by the city council as early as Monday.

Fergus Falls currently has a temporary moratorium on wind turbines. The six-month ordinance was passed by the council in late February following requests for turbines by both residential and industrial users.

The purpose of the moratorium, said Community Development Director Gordon Hydukovich, is to give the city time to develop a WECS policy – something that has never existed until this point.

“Basically if someone came in to get a building permit for something like this, they wouldn’t have been able to do it because we didn’t have (an ordinance),” he said.

But that will likely change in the near future. The Planning Commission has established a set of regulations for WECS installation based on a policy developed by the city of Hutchinson. The proposed ordinance details requirements for obtaining a conditional use permit for a WECS, whether for residential, commercial or industrial use.

The proposal includes requirements regarding tower height, setbacks from property lines, shadow flicker, noise and tower discontinuation, among others.

The idea, Hydukovich said, is to create clear, fair conditions for WECS installation.

The Planning Commission developed the proposed ordinance with input from Vinco, Inc. which operates a wind turbine outside city limits and specializes in turbine installation. City Engineer Dan Edwards and City Attorney Rolf Nycklemoe also contributed to the proposal.

Hydukovich said the proposed policy could get its first reading at Monday’s city council meeting, though it may head to a separate committee beforehand.

By Lauren Radomski

The Fergus Falls Daily Journal

28 April 2008