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Lewes has no plans to end wind turbine ban

LEWES – A moratorium on residential wind turbines in Lewes won’t be lifted anytime soon.

The City Council voted unanimously to extend the moratorium’s expiration date from Oct. 18 to March 2011. Mayor Jim Ford said the six-month extension was designed to give the city time to hold a public hearing on the matter and carefully craft the language of a new zoning ordinance for small wind energy systems.

Ford said his best guess for when the public hearing would take place was “sometime in January.” He said the six-month extension was necessary to properly prepare for and advertise the public hearing and then revise the zoning ordinance after public input.

The current language of the ordinance only allows for turbine towers to be built on properties over half an acre. Ford said this was one of the main concerns he was hearing from residents in addition to worries over turbine noise and visual impact, especially in historical areas.

The draft ordinance would allow for installation of rooftop mounted units no matter the property size, he said, with the only limitations coming from structural standards of the houses.

According to Councilman Ted Becker, the current draft addresses only residential wind turbines, pinpointing setback and height restrictions.

“The presence of the (University of Delaware) turbine has helped people realize that (these systems) have great value and are essential to lowering utility bills,” he said. “People are looking at various ways to green their homes, and we had to draft the ordinance to figure out how we want the city to look if residents became interested in wind turbines.”

The ordinance allows a small wind system no greater than 60 kilowatts of rated capacity that does not exceed ambient noise levels by more than 6 decibels at the nearest property line.

Currently, tower height is set at 65 feet for property lots one-half to one acre and 80 feet for those more than an acre.

Ocean City is undertaking similar discussions after the city’s first wind turbine applicant, Jim Motsko, announced plans to build a 39-foot tall pole-mounted wind turbine at his Sixth Street bayfront home.