FARMINGTON – The Planning Board will meet tonight to discuss various projects and proposed ordinances, including a proposed zoning ordinance regarding small wind turbines.
The proposed ordinance was previously discussed at an Oct. 4 meeting of the board, which featured a presentation by an employee of the state’s Office and Energy and Planning.
According to Planning Board Chair Paul Parker, for several years now, the Planning Board has worked to adopt a local ordinance for the town regarding wind turbines and small wind energy systems. If a community does not have one of these ordinances, he said, the state takes over, making the process of building a small wind turbine in town more difficult.
Currently, any projects proposed in town would have to follow the state statute for reviewing wind energy projects.
This statute, HB310, was created in 2008 in an effort to streamline the process of applying for and installing a small scale wind energy system and to set up a process for communities to regulate the systems.
According to the statute, zoning ordinances must not unreasonably limit renewable energy projects. A town could unreasonably limit such projects, according to the statute, if they require that turbines follow generic height ordinances stating no structure in town can be taller than 35 feet, if the setback requirement for turbines is greater than 150 percent of the system’s height, and if the sound requirements are less than 55 decibels, meaning that a town cannot require a system to make less noise than that level.
The state statute also requires that any proposed wind energy project be reviewed by the town building inspector and all abutters to the project be notified. After abutter notification, towns are required to leave 30 days for public comment, although the comments can be in written form and towns are not required to hold a public hearing.
During their last discussion of the proposed town ordinance, some Planning Board members said they thought the state statute was too complicated and costly for residents who want to put up a small turbine on their property. Creating a town ordinance, they said, could make this process less complicated.
The board will continue their discussion of such an ordinance tonight. The meeting will be held at Town Hall beginning at 6 p.m.
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