Council was prepared to approve updated wind turbine regulations, a decision was once again delayed.
Council deferred a vote for a month to allow planning and zoning director Lawrence Lank to investigate how the amended ordinance deals with turbine placement on agricultural lands. Under the proposed ordinance, only one wind turbine per parcel would be permitted in typical AR-1 zoning areas. A local installer said it would take more than one turbine to supply power to a chicken house.
“It’s not clear, and it was not discussed,” Lank said.
Wind-turbine installer Greg Menoche brought up the question during the council’s May 3 public hearing. He said he has had several inquires for wind turbines to supply power to chicken houses in Sussex County, but more than one turbine would be required.
Menoche, who apologized for not keeping up with the status of the ordinance, appeared during a May 3 public hearing asking for time to study the ordinance and provide comments.
He said those who install wind turbines in Sussex County have been at a standstill since last July when the state enacted new regulations. Because of the change in law, without a new ordinance, the county can allow wind turbines only on parcels 5 acres or greater. Turbines were permitted, with a public hearing before the board of adjustment, as a special-use exception on smaller parcels. The new state law removed the public-hearing process from regulations.
Under the county’s amended ordinance, the board of adjustment hearing has been removed; wind turbines are treated as accessory uses. Among the proposed regulations are setbacks equal to the tower height plus one blade and the removal of the minimum 5-acre parcel size.
Menoche said those were the two main issues that raise concerns for installers.
At its April 28 meeting, planning and zoning commissioners recommended approval of the amended ordinance to put new regulations in place regulating wind turbines.
Council voted to defer on a decision and keep the public record open for 30 days to allow time for Lank to get a ruling from the county’s legal staff.
Lank said if a major change is needed in the proposed ordinance, it might be wise to pass the ordinance as is written and come back for an amendment later. A major change would require starting the public-hearing process all over again.
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