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P&Z won’t recommend wind turbine ordinance  

Credit:  By Chris Roark, www.courier-gazette.com 14 December 2010 ~~

For some planning and zoning commissioners, all it took was a quick glance at the empty room Monday to feel that this isn’t the time to allow the zoning for wind turbines in Flower Mound.

The commission voted 6-1 to deny a request to amend various part of the town’s code of ordinances that would have allowed wind turbines in certain parts of town. Vice chairman Tom Goss voted against the motion.

The town council will vote on the issue after the holidays, but since P&Z denied the request, the council would have to have a super majority vote (4-1 or 5-0) to approve the ordinance request.

Commissioner Jeff Whittaker said he didn’t expect many people to request the wind turbines, noting that no residents were in the room during the public hearing.

The proposed ordinance stated that residents with agriculturally-zoned land would be eligible to install a wind turbine on their property. Residents with five acres or more could do so automatically, and residents with less than five acres would have to go through a specific use permit (SUP) process to have one.

“I’m reluctant to green light this without an SUP process to give adjacent homeowners the chance to voice their opinion, even on five acres-plus,” Whittaker said.

Other specifications outlined in the proposed ordinance dealt with height. The maximum height for the turbine pole would be 65 feet, or 85 feet if granted through an SUP process.

The ordinance stated that a setback requirement would be 150 percent the pole’s height. For example, if the pole was 65 feet, then the setback from the property line would be 97.5 feet. Reductions in setback could be requested through an SUP process, and there could be a 20-foot setback reduction if the subject property is next to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property or a non-residential property.

Other standards in the ordinance included having monopole towers with internal wiring, restricting tree removal and restricting poles in easements prohibiting battery storage.

The ordinance also addressed tower access, utility connections, state and federal regulations, lighting and sound standards and shadow flickering as a result of the spinning blades.

Maintenance and abandonment was also addressed. Under the proposed ordinance, a resident with a wind turbine would have to remove or replace the unit within 60 days once it has been deemed unstable. Residents would have to remove it within 90 days if they move away from the property.

Still, commissioners had too many concerns.

Commissioner Dennis McKaige was concerned about the esthetics of it.

“We have other 85-foot towers in town, but we went to great lengths to mask them,” McKaige said, referring to cell phone towers. “There have been no discussions to mitigate the looks of these.”

McKaige also questioned why property next to Corps of Engineers land wouldn’t have to have as much of a setback as property next to homeowners.

Commissioner Mellany Lamb said it’s not a viable option now since it would take multiple turbines to generate enough power for a whole house, adding that she’s been told that it would take four units to power hers.

“The reality is that technology improves, but I just don’t think we’re there yet,” Lamb said.

Also at the meeting, the commission voted unanimously to approve a replat and an SUP for Rockbrook Montessori Academy, located at 2501 Simmons Road.

The 12,113-square-foot building is expected to hold between 160 and 180 students, plus 25 teachers.

Some commissioners asked about potential vehicle backup on Simmons Road during drop-off times, but school officials said based on other campuses they have in the area, the backup never surpasses seven or eight cars and that they’re not expected to reach the road area.

The council will vote on the SUP early next year.

Source:  By Chris Roark, www.courier-gazette.com 14 December 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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