BEAUFORT – A complete version of the draft ordinance regulating wind turbines and communication towers was presented Thursday to the County Planning Commission, and while the ordinance now addresses noise, shadow flicker and more, there are still several steps to go before the draft is proposed to county commissioners.
Planning Commission Chairman Harry Archer said now that a significant amount of research has been done and an initial draft has been developed, comments obtained during three public comment meetings recently will be used to modify the draft.
During the special meeting in the boardroom of the ad-ministration building, Mr. Archer urged commission members to continue carefully going through the draft and making notes for the planning staff.
“Other counties will eventually be mandated to do the same as Carteret is doing now,” he said referring to developing an ordinance.
Because so few ordinances on wind turbines exist, Carteret’s will likely become a tool for other counties in North Carolina, as well as other states, Mr. Archer said.
He said he hoped the planning commission would have the ordinance approved in August so the County Board of Commissioners can have September and October to hold a public hearing and board discussions.
While the nine-month moratorium on the permitting of tall structures, approved earlier this year by the board of commissioners, doesn’t expire until November, Mr. Archer said the commission and planning staff was hoping to hold that month in reserve just in case.
The draft now requires that applicants for tall structures permits provide a shadow flicker and blade glint report for each wind energy facility. Based on certain factors outlined in the ordinance, each turbine, or facility, has to be designed so that shadow flicker and blade glint does not fall on roadways or occupied property, with various outlined exceptions.
Although a public comment period was not on Thursday’s agenda, Mr. Archer did allow some members of the public to speak regarding the tall structures ordinance.
Tony Castagna of Beaufort said he found the draft “attractive” but voiced concerns regarding the cost of substations and transmission lines, as well as legal defense for residents should a turbine damage property or injure someone.
Steve Williamson of Otway said low frequency vibrations from the turbines are a health concern because they can travel farther than the noise of the turbines can be heard.
“I have no issue with wind energy as long as you take into account the way it will affect the people around it,” he said.
It is important to think of health effects when considering setbacks, he said, because once expensive turbines were put up, it would be too late to decide the approved setbacks aren’t enough.
Charles Renda Jr., a resident of Otway and vice president of the Responsible Citizens for Responsible Siting group, agreed that the health effects of low frequency vibrations are a concern and said he was op-posed to setback waivers for adjoining property owners.
As an example, Mr. Renda said person owning adjoining property can sign a waiver allowing fewer setbacks on a neighboring wind turbine site, but that property owner may later decide to put a trailer park on the property. While renters may carefully read a lease, they aren’t likely to read the deed the property for the trailer is sitting on, he said, therefore putting renters’ health at risk.
To view a full version of the draft tall structures ordinance, please visit www.co.carteret.nc.us/departments/planningandinspection.htm.
20 July 2008
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