CALEDONIA – Despite support from the Racine County Planning and Development Department, the village’s Board of Appeals denied a couple’s proposal to build a 54-foot-tall wind turbine.
In a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the project came to a halt amid concerns – expressed by board members and would-be neighbors – over noise, the turbine’s appearance and possibly decreasing neighbors’ property and home values.
Caledonia residents David and Kristie Zahn had wanted to build the turbine on their property, at 5438 Short Road, as their way of becoming more environmentally friendly.
“And I didn’t want to pay the electric company for energy anymore,” said David Zahn, 68.
The board’s decision, however, could be overturned by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin should the couple choose to file another appeal and find approval from the independent agency responsible for the regulation of the state’s public utilities.
Board members said the PSC is also expected in the next six months to establish regulations that could either make it more difficult or easier for individuals to build turbines.
“With gasoline at $4.20 not so long ago, I wouldn’t bet on regulations to be more restrictive,” said Everette Fitch, Board of Appeals chairman.
Zahn said Tuesday he doesn’t know if he’ll continue to pursue the $10,000 project.
Zahn had filed an appeal with the board after his permit was denied. The proposed area is designated as residential, which doesn’t permit the turbines, considered to be a small energy facility.
Zahn sought an exemption saying that the turbine would be built in a large-enough open site surrounded by 30-foot trees and should be far away from neighbors that its sounds would be inaudible – arguments backed by Julie Anderson, Racine County Planning and Development Director, and her staff.
According to a memorandum Anderson sent, the property across the proposed site is designed as agricultural zone where wind turbines are permitted.
However, some voiced their opposition, including New Berlin resident Jon Fredrickson who is hopeful to move his family to Caledonia, but wouldn’t if the project was approved. The land’s property line would be 120 feet away from the proposed site.
The board’s rejection of the proposal came before it approved an extension of up to six months to allow Caledonia resident Chad Alexander to build a wind turbine – proposed last year and more than twice the size of Zahn’s proposed windmill – at 8034 Dunkelow Road, an area they considered more rural.
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