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Bath Twp. considering wind energy systems ordinance

BATH TWP. – The Township Board is about to take up a new measure governing wind energy generating systems.

The township’s Planning Commission has endorsed a draft ordinance that would set rules for where small and large wind-powered turbines can be located and create a process for people who want to install them.

Those types of requests now have to go through the Zoning Board of Appeals, township officials said.

The ordinance is similar to those in place in other communities, including DeWitt Township, township officials said.

“These systems have become viable options for our residents, and we need some way to regulate them,” township Superintendent Troy Feltman said. “As the return on investment for individuals goes up, we’re going to get more demand for it.”

The so-called Wind Energy Conversion (WECS) Ordinance would set construction standards for each type of land use.

Structure-mounted turbines would be allowed in all zoning districts, while tower-mounted units of up to 45 feet high would be permitted in all but the D District, according to a summary of the ordinance.

Tower-mounted turbines up to 110 feet would be allowable in the D and R districts.

Setback requirements, might exclude certain properties.

“Generally, you would need about a half-acre to do this,” township planner Jim Foulds told board members in their Dec. 19 meeting.

The proposed ordinance doesn’t address utility-scale generating systems, which are unlikely to be sought in Clinton County, he said.

The county Board of Commissioners has adopted a WECS ordinance. So has DeWitt Township, where a WECS ordinance took effect in March 2011.

The only WECS system operating in the township is at State Mini Storage on State Road, which installed wind turbines and solar panels, said Rich Trent, community development director for DeWitt Township.

In Bath Township, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance and unanimously recommended it be adopted. The measure is likely to be introduced for a first reading in January, officials said.