FARMINGTON— The Planning Board will meet Tuesday to hold three public hearings regarding proposed changes and additions to the town’s zoning ordinances.
One of the proposed changes includes adding a section to the ordinance regarding small wind turbines.
The Planning Board has been looking into creating such an ordinance for several years now, according to board Chair Paul Parker, saying that having a town ordinance in place for the creation and permitting of small wind turbines makes it easier for those in the community to install them.
If a community does not have such an ordinance, the state takes over and can make the process more difficult, Parker said recently.
After hearing from the state Office of Energy and Planning in October, the board worked at multiple meetings to create the draft ordinance that will be presented at the public hearing Tuesday.
The proposed ordinance applies to wind turbines that have an energy-producing capacity of 100 kilowatts or less and that will be used primarily for on-site energy consumption.
According to the ordinance, small wind turbines will be permitted in all zoning districts as long as the requirements of the ordinance are met. The systems cannot exceed 30 feet above the average tree line closest to it.
For a system that is less than or equal to 20 kilowatts, the turbine must be setback from other structures at 110 percent of the system’s height. For units that are 21 to 100 kilowatts, the setback must be 150 percent of the system’s height.
According to Parker, this aspect of the ordinance is one key difference from the state’s requirements, which do not differentiate between smaller systems and larger systems in terms of setback distances.
“In some areas this may make it possible for someone to have one in an area they may not have been able to (under state requirements),” Parker said.
The ordinance also sets limits on the amount of sound a wind turbine is allowed to produce, setting that level at 55 decibels. The ordinance also limits any signs, flags, or decorative items on wind turbines in the town to manufacturer identification or warning signs only.
According to the proposed ordinance, all abutters of the property where the turbine is being built will be notified and be given a 30-day comment period before the system is approved. Each application for a small wind energy system will also be reviewed to determine if it will have a regional impact. If so, the Strafford Regional Planning Commission and affected towns will also be notified. All notification fees will be covered by the applicant.
Parker said Wednesday that while it remains to be seen what the public thinks about the ordinances, he is very pleased with it.
“I think it’s a good compromise and I think we achieved our objective, which was to develop something simple, easy to read, and that tried to make the process a little simpler,” he said. “I think it will serve the town well.”
The ordinance will be discussed at two separate public hearings, the first one being Tuesday, and will then, if there are no changes made, will be passed on to the town meeting in March.
If changes need to be made, there will be a third public hearing before the ordinance goes to town meeting.
Tuesday’s public hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the town offices, located at 356 Main St.
There will also be hearings held regarding making changes to the boundary of the Commercial Business District from Tappan Street to the New Durham line, creating a Lancelot Shores Overlay District, and adding a Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code to establish basic requirements for property maintenance.
For more information on these proposed ordinances and changes, visit the Farmington town website at www.farmington.nh.us.
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