The Norton Shores City Council is blown away by wind turbines.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the council supported an ordinance that would allow residents, businesses and commercial wind farms to operate turbines.
A final vote to approve the ordinance is expected Aug. 6.
Right now, the city’s zoning books do not specifically address turbines, so they are not allowed, Community Development Director Dick Maher has said.
Maher told the council Tuesday that few cities in the state have ordinances that allow turbines.
“Surprisingly, townships are leading the charge,” Maher said.
Most council members said they’re glad Norton Shores is among the first cities in the state to join the “green” movement when it comes to wind-generated energy.
However, Councilman Lowell Kinney questioned whether the city would have enough control in regulating turbines.
“They may turn out to be a fad and not an energy producer,” he said.
Councilman Gary Ostrom said residential turbines will evolve like satellite dishes – they’ll get smaller and gain popularity as the technology improves.
The ordinance would allow 70-foot-tall towers on homes and businesses, Maher said. Such turbines could be 6-8 feet in diameter. The proposed property-line setback would protect neighbors in residential settings, Maher said.
Most residential turbines would be mounted to roofs.
The ordinance is aimed at encouraging the use of turbines while outlining reasonable guidelines, Maher said.
The city’s planning commission reviewed the ordinance earlier this month and, with the exception of minor changes, recommended its approval.
“Their recommendation was based on the fact that the ordinance is forward thinking and will allow homeowners to become more self-sufficient,” City Administrator Mark C. Meyers wrote in a memo to the council.
The planning commission offered two changes: The setback requirement for wind farm turbines would be twice the height of the turbines instead of 2,600 feet.
Meanwhile, a mandatory time frame for a “wind resource study” would be one year instead of the previously recommended two for wind farms.
The city is not offering tax breaks for residents or companies that install turbines. Most residential turbines would supplement electricity from power companies, officials said.
Three categories of turbines would be allowed to operate, according to the ordinance – homes/businesses, a single turbine that would serve a residential development and wind farms.
Shared turbines for residential developments could be 70 to 200 feet tall, according to the draft ordinance.
An overlay district dictates three places where wind farms could operate: The Nugent Sand/Jackson Merkey properties, the Muskegon Elks Park along Lake Harbor Road, the Muskegon Motorcycle Hill Climb property and the Oak Ridge Golf Club on Pontaluna Road.
Wind farm turbines could be 60-80 feet in diameter and only be placed on properties with at least 20 acres.
Chad D. Lerch | The Muskegon Chronicle
15 July 2008
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