City Council’s planning and zoning committee voted unanimously Feb. 7 to hold legislation that would double the number of zoning districts where wind turbines would be permitted.
Currently, monopole wind turbines are permitted in RR Rural Residential districts and NP-1 National Park districts and on publicly owned properties. If approved by Council, the new ordinance would also allow wind turbine facilities in E-1 Employment and M-1 Manufacturing districts and would require a conditional use permit for all districts.
The city wants to amend its General Development Code to allow industrial users to construct wind turbines, said Fred Guerra, the city’s planning director. “Industrial users are big users of electricity,” Guerra said, “and green energy technologies, such as wind power, could help to reduce energy costs.” There are no wind turbines in the city now.
Councilman Ken Barnhart (R-3) said allowing wind turbines, especially in the more densely populated wards, would not be an “advantage” for the city. “I can’t see how one would be practical anywhere … the only ward that I could see one that might be erected would be in Ward 8.” Barnhart said wind turbines negatively affect property values and are “unsightly” and “noisy,” adding he would support legislation to “not allow them in the city.”
“You’re going to see more and more requests for these,” said Guerra. “I think we need to be forward-thinking and allow them and regulate them.”
“I have reservations allowing this in other zoning districts,” said Councilwoman Carol Klinger (R-At large), who requested Guerra provide Council members with a substantially sized map of the city’s various zoning districts. She said the map initially given to her was too small. Council Vice President Jerry James (D-7) said he agreed with Klinger and added he wouldn’t be “comfortable” voting on the ordinance without a clear picture of potential sites for wind turbines.
“We agree there should be regulations,” said Valerie Wax Carr, the city’s service director, “but be cautious … You don’t want to close the door completely.” Carr acknowledged there is an interest in wind turbines by many, including the city, which owns a wind turbine in Bowling Green.
“Wind turbines are up and coming,” City resident Karen Nelsch told members of Council, adding that if they approve the new regulations, they can turn down any wind turbine proposals they “don’t like.” She said voting down the new regulations would be “ludicrous.”
The current regulations governing wind facilities sets the maximum height at 120 feet with the setback equal to the height. Under the ordinance discussed by Council Feb. 7, the new regulations would establish new height and setback standards. The height of wind turbines would not be allowed to exceed 150 feet in height in E-1 and M-1 districts, and 200 feet in R-R and NP-1 districts.
New setback rules would prohibit a wind turbine from being within a distance:
* equal to its height from buildings, critical infrastructure, or private or public ways that are not part of the wind energy facility;
* two times its height from the nearest residential structure; or
* one and a half times its height from the nearest property line.
JUZO PLANNING WIND TURBINE
Guerra said he is seeing more people show an interest in wind turbines to offset the cost of energy and demonstrate concern for the environment. Last fall, representatives of Julius Zorn Inc. and an electrical design consultant appeared before the city’s Planning Commission to discuss a proposed wind turbine project on their property at 3690 Zorn Drive. Walter Zorn, production manager of Julius Zorn Inc., or Juzo, told the Commission on Nov. 16 that the project is not for profit and the company wants to “go green.”
David Mallie, a consultant with EDC Group of Garfield Heights, said Juzo is proposing a two-bladed turbine 141.25 feet tall that would produce 25,000 to 30,000 kilowatts of clean electricity. Mallie said a wind speed of about 10 miles per hour would be needed to get the turbine moving. He said the noise level would be the equivalent of the sound of a laptop computer 100 feet away.
If all approvals are obtained, Mallie told the Planning Commission, government grants are still available to have the turbine installed this year. He said the project would cost approximately $145,000 and take about three months to complete. Don Nelsch, vice chairman of the Planning Commission, said the long-term implications of a wind turbine are beneficial and he has no problem with the project.
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