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North Ridgeville's wind turbines will have to wait

NORTH RIDGEVILLE Applications for wind turbines are under a temporary moratorium after council members voted to take at least 90 days to craft legislation to regulate them.

The vote comes shortly after a resident of Emerald Street was granted permission to erect a 35-foot turbine under the city’s current ordinances, which are not specific to renewable energy-generating structures.

City Council members at a Building and Lands Committee meeting June 20 agreed they were all caught off-guard by the project. In fact, the first time Ward II Councilman Dennis Boose reportedly heard of the turbine was from a resident complaining about the structure as an eyesore.

“I was surprised at what she (the irked resident) was telling me – I was not aware that this would be applicable to a residential property in the size and manner that it is,” Boose said. “We as a council try to be ahead of the game and try not to be reactive, but I for one did not see this coming.”

Cheryl Fule, who lives two doors down from the residential windmill, says the officials’ excuse is weak, especially since she doubts her neighborhood’s new addition will be removed.

“There’s a national discussion going on about this,” she said. “The fact they didn’t see this coming is not good enough.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Mayor David Gillock, who said discussions regarding turbines and renewable energy have taken place at least internally among city officials.

Additionally, a 480-foot long row and two 131-foot long arrays of solar panels were recently installed along North Ridgeville’s Lake Ridge Academy’s shared property line with the Ohio Turnpike.

But, while Gillock agreed council needs to address renewable energy-generating structures with legislation – referencing issues such as noise, decommissioning structures and aesthetics – he defended Building Department Director Guy Fursdon for issuing the permit for the turbine.

“There was no reason for me to deny it based on our regulation of accessory uses; that can cover a multitude of things,” Fusdon said. “Maybe if I had something that I could hang my hat on and say ‘You can’t do that, it’s prohibited,’ but my hands were a little bit tied . . . legal issues would have been a possibility.”

Council members passed the temporary moratorium unanimously at the council meeting that followed the buildings meeting June 20, and it is effective immediately.

Council is entitled to two 90-day extensions on the moratorium should they need more time to address the issue, but Buildings and Lands Committee Chair Bob Olson does not expect to utilize the extensions.

“We got legislation from other cities and we’ll look to see how applicable it is to our city – what options do we have available to us, not only to protect the rights of those who want to utilize green energy, but also to the residents who live in the same area,” Olson said.

Neighboring Avon passed legislation governing turbines in May 2010, which restrict the structures to commercial properties north of Interstate 90.

Similarly, the city of Avon Lake addressed a proposed ordinance governing wind and solar energy, which they’ve been putting together for about two years, at a Public Service Committee Meeting June 21.

Avon Lake Environmental Affairs Committee Chair Jennifer Fenderbosch expects the legislation will pass in the near future.