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Barrington eyes small wind turbines

Small wind-energy systems, including vertical-axis wind turbines, could come to Barrington homes if the Town Council approves amendments to the zoning ordinances.

Small-scale wind-energy systems, referred to as “wind turbines” by most manufacturers, could be placed on Barrington rooftops or in back yards with amendments being considered to the zoning ordinances.

The Town Council will continue a public hearing on the “wind turbine” amendments and several others at its next meeting on Feb. 6. The amendments are recommended by the Planning Board and CREB (Committee for Renewable Energy Barrington) to generate renewable power for homes.

The residential wind-energy systems being considered in Barrington could be roof-top models or back-yard models placed on poles no more than 35-feet high. (See the videos here to look at both.)

“Anything in excess of that height would need a special-use permit,” said Town Planner Phil Hervey.

The wind-energy systems also are seen as primarily “for properties of over an acre,” said Hervey, “and properties nearer the water with more wind. These properties are better suited for these systems.”

But any property owner could utilize the wind-energy systems if they meet the criteria, he said, particularly the height and setback requirements.

The proposed amendments describe the wind-energy systems as: “An electric generator that utilizes wind energy to produce clean, renewable power, with a total rated capacity of 6 kilowatts (kW) or less.”

The wind-energy systems would be allowed in all residence districts if they conform to the following provisions and they are not detrimental to or impair adjacent properties in the neighborhood:

The provisions:

(1) Freestanding pole-mounted small-scale wind energy systems shall not exceed height requirements for principal structures and shall be set back from all property lines a distance of at least the height of the structure.

(2) Small-scale wind energy system equipment attached to a building shall not exceed the 35-foot height limit for principal structures.

(3) A special-use permit shall be required where a proposed freestanding pole- mounted small-scale wind-energy system would exceed the height limit for principal structures, or where the equipment exceeds 15 feet above the roof peak or the height limit.

(4) No more than one system is permitted per residential lot, where one freestanding pole-mounted wind energy system shall be the equivalent of one system, and where wind-energy system equipment mounted on one building shall be the equivalent of one system.

(5) Noise. All small-scale wind energy systems, as defined in this Article, shall comply with the Town’s noise ordinance limits.

(6) Color. Small-scale wind energy systems shall be a non-obtrusive color such as tan, sand, gray, black or similar colors. Galvanized steel or metal is acceptable for the support structures. The painting or coating shall be kept in good repair for the life of the wind turbine.

(7) Electrical Wires. All electrical wires leading from the tower to electrical control facilities shall be located underground.

(8) Maintenance. Small-scale wind energy systems shall be maintained in good repair, as recommended by the manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance or industry standards.

(9) Certified Safe. Evidence shall be submitted with a building permit application that the wind machine has been constructed in accordance with accepted industry standards and certified safe.

(10) Any small-scale wind energy system found to be unsafe by the Building Official shall immediately cease operation upon notification by the Building Official and shall be repaired by the owner to meet federal, state, and local safety standards or be removed within six months. Wind machines that are not operated for a continuous period of 12 months shall be removed by the owner of the wind turbine.

(11) When a small-scale wind energy system is removed from a site, all associated and ancillary equipment, batteries, devices, structures or support(s) for that system shall also be removed. For the purposes of this section, non-operation shall be deemed to include, but shall not be limited to, the blades of the system remaining stationary so that wind resources are not being converted into electric or mechanical energy.