If you want to put up a wind turbine in Columbia you might need an environmental study, shadow analysis and simulated model of what the turbine will look like before you can legally install one.
These stringent permit requirements are part a new draft ordinance that would regulate wind turbines. The ordinance was presented to the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night.
City planner Matthew Lepke said the city wanted to craft an ordinance that, if passed, would be useful. He said it was tough to draft an ordinance because there has to be a balance between the people who might want a turbine and the effect the turbine would have on those around them.
“It was an arduous task,” Lepke said. “It’s very difficult to come up with something for all residents, businesses and industries in town that is equitable.”
The Columbia City Council asked for turbine regulations after Colin Malaker asked for a turbine to use at his business, Sterling Dental Care.
Although the city approved his request in June, the council wanted the commission to look into rules governing new turbines. Lepke said the turbine at the dental office sparked interest among other business owners.
Under the proposed rules, residents could in most cases have one turbine and it could be up to 41 feet tall. It would have to be set back from property lines, and it would have noise restrictions. Special permits would be required for commercial properties to have more than two turbines and for turbines to be located downtown.
Planning and Zoning Commissioner Helen Anthony said the 14-page ordinance is so encompassing that it would overwhelm the average homeowner and be counterproductive.
“We’re trying to encourage renewable energy, and I think this really discourages it,” she said.
Lepke said it would be much easier for commercial users to meet the requirements in the draft ordinance. Although residents would be able to have turbines, that could change as the ordinance develops.
Lepke said a public hearing on a refined version of the ordinance is scheduled for the April 21 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
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