SALEM – A wind energy ordinance will be forwarded to city council after the rules and ordinance committee put the finishing touches on it Monday.
Chairman John Berlin said numerous changes and revisions were made and Housing, Planning and Zoning Officer Pat Morrissey reviewed the committee’s working copy of definitions, decibel criteria, the number of turbines allowed on a site and fees.
The two types were defined as large, open-blade turbines and small fan, or “gearless blade-tip” design units with a shroud and with a blade no larger than six feet in diameter.
The smaller units will be allowed in any zone.
“That way a small business can put one up,” he said, with the board of zoning appeals determining the number at any single location.
Berlin said that was a good idea since some businesses don’t have the acreage for the large turbine units.
Large units have a proposed blade height set at 30 feet above the foundation and the system cannot generate more than 45 dB in noise 100 feet from the foundation.
The small systems have a dB of 35.
Councilman Bret Apple said he didn’t know much about how they operated regarding the decibels and Morrissey said, “If you can hear it 80 feet away it’s considered noise.”
The committee put the setback for the smaller units at 25 feet, a change from 70 feet.
“That seems reasonable,” Berlin said.
“The point of it is,” Morrissey said, “you don’t want it sitting on somebody’s property line …”
The small units put out 2.5 kilowatts, Morrissey said, noting that future models will produce more electricity and because of that, “they may get a little noisier.”
He added, “We’ll find out … if it’s a justifiable problem, we’ll find out. We’re ahead of it.
Apple asked about the criminal and civil aspects in the ordinance and Morrissey said the law director advised that it should be included.
“What would they be charged with?” Apple asked and wondered how it would be determined when the unit was last used.
Morrissey said the last used issue could be determined by the connection with the power company and if the annual fee was not paid.
“An indication of it not being used would be not reapplying for a permit,” he said, adding a they probably wouldn’t pay the liability insurance which is a requirement on the application.
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