Industrial wind turbines can now be a little noisier. The Mason County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday to increase slightly the noise large wind turbines are allowed to produce, should they be erected in the county.
The board amended the Mason County Zoning Ordinance at its monthly meeting and eased the regulation on the amount of noise large or industrial wind turbines can produce.
The amendment allowed an increase in noise from 45 to 55 decibels – a level still lower than normal conversation, which the county says and several Web sites concur, falls at about 60 to 70 decibels.
Although there are currently no large industrial wind turbines in Mason County, the county’s Zoning and Building Director Mary Reilly said several companies are looking into the possibility of installing them by testing wind speeds and durations in the area.
Wind turbines are considered industrial when they are 150 feet tall. “Usually when you get up to turbines that tall, they are serving more than just that one homeowner,” Reilly said.
She said larger wind turbines are really designed to pump power into the electricity grid.
The county’s guidelines for smaller wind turbines mirror the state’s guidelines, Reilly said at Tuesday’s meeting. Regulations for larger wind turbines previously did not follow the county’s guidelines for smaller turbines or the state’s guidelines as closely.
“This is an effort to try to be consistent,” she said.
Commissioner Robert Genson introduced the resolution to change the amount of noise allowed.
Wind turbines were the focus of two other resolutions to amend the County Zoning Ordinance, also approved by the board Tuesday.
Genson also read a resolution pertaining to personal wind turbines and included changes to sound pressure mediation, abandonment and maintenance of turbines.
Commissioner Ronald Pedersen read a resolution to add definitions relating to both personal wind turbines and larger ones to the zoning ordinance.
Also at the meeting the board denied a resolution that would allow people to build accessory buildings in their front yards if the buildings were at least 100 feet from the roadway without getting special permission from the Planning Commission.
“It was a common request,” Reilly said. “People frequently put houses toward the rear (of their property) and put garages in front, especially if they are parking there.”
The Zoning Office will look at each case and treat it individually she said. “We’re not comfortable with a one size fits all.”
At the meeting the board also :
• approved authorization to fill the vacant Corrections Chief Deputy position. The sheriff hired Bruce Patterson, who had retired from the jail, for the job.
• approved the purchase of magnetic card readers for the sheriff’s office from the Equipment Replacement Fund.
• approved authorization to fill the positions of animal control officer and assistant animal control officer.
• approved repairs to the jail showers from the Jail Construction Fund.
• approved June 21, 2008 as Mason County Sports Hall of Fame Day.
• reviewed the 2007 annual report from Emergency Management Coordinator Liz Reimink.
• reviewed the 2007 annual report from Mason County MSU Extension Director Jim Breinling.
• listened to a presentation on recovery and anti-stigma from the West Michigan Community Mental Health System.
14 May 2008
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