CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Private wind turbines aren’t exactly common in Cedar Falls.
In fact, when the Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday asked Mike Miller how many are in the city, he replied, “One.” That turbine resides in his backyard.
But the commission got out ahead of the curve by recommending approval of a new ordinance governing wind energy facilities in Cedar Falls.
The ordinance covers both large-and small-scale ventures, although City Planner Marty Ryan said the latter would be more likely to come up in the city limits.
“We really don’t anticipate wind farms to happen in Cedar Falls, but it’s possible we could have larger stand alone facilities here or there,” Ryan said.
Miller has been working with the commission as they crafted the ordinance over the past year. He operates a company that markets both solar and wind energy alternatives. He said there has been a great deal of interest in small facilities for powering homes or small businesses.
As far as small turbines on residential lots, like the 35-foot tall structure in Miller’s yard, the ordinance would limit the height of the facility to 60 feet. It also requires a setback from neighboring properties equal to the height of the tower, although a property owner could appeal to the city to have that setback reduced by half.
The commission also added consideration for towers up to 80-feet tall under special circumstances, a stipulation that Miller recommended last week.
“The 80-foot towers may come about on occasion to get above the 60-foot trees,” Miller said.
Small roof-mounted facilities also would be allowed, provided they do not extend more than 15 feet above the roof.
Larger, industrial facilities generating more than 100 kilowatts of power would be limited to areas zoned agricultural or industrial and be subject to setbacks 1.5 times the height of the building.
Smaller facilities generating less than 100 kilowatts of power would be allowed in commercial districts or higher density residential areas, such as apartment complexes. Those towers could be constructed up to 150 feet tall.
The ordinance will move on to the City Council for approval.
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