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Afton City Council approves amended wind energy ordinance  

Credit:  By: Amber Kispert, Woodbury Bulletin, www.woodburybulletin.com 24 November 2010 ~~

Wind turbine discussions in Afton have finally started to die down.

The City Council approved an amended wind energy ordinance at its Nov. 16 meeting.

“We’ve tweaked and caught all of the little problems that were in it before,” Planning Commission chair Barb Ronningen said.

The amended ordinances passed with a 4-1 vote. Mayor Pat Snyder passed the sole “no” vote.

“I still object to the 135 feet,” she said. “And I’m still unclear on the whole noise aspect of it.”

Council member Bill Palmquist said he was pleased with the revisions.

“I think you did a good job fixing it,” he said.

The Planning Commission and the City Council have been discussing the ordinance for the past several months.

The Afton City Council approved the wind energy ordinance, which regulates wind turbines, in June.

The ordinance regulates residential-style wind turbines based on height, noise levels, zone and setback.

However, council members had some concerns over some of the regulations and language.

The Planning Commission had originally recommended that turbines would be regulated to no more than 200 feet, but the council lowered that to 135 feet.

“My thing has always been the height,” Snyder said previously. “I still think it’s too tall.”

The council had also expressed concerns about noise levels, signage and acreage minimums, which is why the ordinance was sent, back to the Planning Commission for review.

In terms of height, the Planning Commission had to amend the ordinance so that the definition of height, hub plus blade, reflected the council’s changes.

In terms of noise levels, the City Council had originally requested that language be incorporated to state that an acoustical engineer should perform noise level readings. However, commissioner Mark Nelson informed the planning commission that an “acoustical engineer” is someone who inspects sound systems.

During the Planning Commission meeting earlier this month, the Planning Commission agreed to the ordinance stating that an applicant must verify the wind turbines noise levels prior to installation, and if a complaint should arise regarding noise, it will be then up to the applicant to provide a certified reading. The city’s noise control officer, or assistant city administrator, would verify those readings.

Snyder said she was not comfortable identifying an experiences or licensed person to perform the reading and certify the results.

Council member Joe Richter said that is something that the City Council may have to look at if issues should arise.

“It’s going to be hard to get it right, right out of the shoot,” he said.

The ordinance states that sound levels cannot exceed 65 decibels from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. and 55 decibels from 10 p.m.-7 a.m. measured at the property line. State statute requires that noise levels cannot exceed 80 decibels at the nearest residence.

Source:  By: Amber Kispert, Woodbury Bulletin, www.woodburybulletin.com 24 November 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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