GUILFORD – A revised proposal for residential wind turbines breezed through the final steps of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval process at Wednesday night’s meeting.
Members unanimously approved the ordinance, which will allow residents to erect wind energy systems up to 120 feet tall in their yards.
“There was initial interest for commercial systems and a few people want to construct residential systems. This is our attempt to take a look at what is available today and reasonable to allow for the development of this,” PZC Chairman Raymond Bower said.
Officials decided at a July meeting to edit the proposed regulation to specify that the presence of turbines can’t prevent abutters from building accessory apartments or structures even if they are within the turbine’s fall zone.
Town Planner George Kral said at Wednesday’s meeting that lawyers who reviewed the regulation’s guidelines confirmed the provision should be added.
The issue had stemmed from a requirement in the amendment that says the distance of a turbine from homes on neighboring lots must at least equal the structure’s size, which could be up to 120 feet. The condition may be met when a wind energy system is originally put up, but it would be violated if a neighbor built an accessory structure on their property within that distance.
Thanks to the added provision, neighbors will still be able to add onto their homes as long as they meet zoning requirements for their own lots.
Additional provisions say the turbines can generate only up to 10 kilowatts and be installed on lots that are at least 40,000 square feet, or about 1 acre. They must also be set away from any property line by 50 feet.
Glenn Weston-Murphy, chairman of the Energy Task Force, has said that a limit of 10 kilowatts would be imposed because it would then restrain the size of the blade to one appropriate for a residential zone. Weston-Murphy and Kral also explained at a July meeting that a lot minimum of 1 acre was required to help mitigate conflicts that could arise between neighbors.
Wind energy systems can cost from $15,000 to $100,000, and Bower said the turbines may start popping up on homeowners’ properties as more are mass produced and the costs come down.
Weston-Murphy said Thursday he spoke with a resident interested in erecting a wind turbine and that approving a regulation allowing the wind systems is a step in the right direction for the town.
Town zoning also addresses wind turbines for commercial facilities, and the state regulates utility system scales that would have multiple turbines.
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