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Aurora OKs alternative energy regulations

AURORA – The City Council has approved zoning code changes that modify regulations for solar and wind energy systems in the city.

City planner Tracey Vacek said the regulations encourage the use of new alternative energy technology while minimizing neighborhood impact.

Few regulations now exist for alternative energy systems.

“We need to get something in place so nothing wild happens,” said Alderman Rick Mervine, 8th Ward.

Before the new rules, the city required homeowners to obtain a special use permit to install wind energy systems, and a building permit to install solar energy systems, according to city spokesman Kevin Stahr.

To date, the city has not received any permit requests to install home wind energy systems. A few building permits have been issued for solar panel installations, Stahr said.

“But the city has been receiving more inquiries,” Stahr said.

Rick Lawrence, 4th Ward, was the only one of the 12 alderman to vote against the measure. He said the systems distract from architecture in older neighborhoods.

“(Wind energy) is really is a fairly ineffective energy source for a resident,” he said.

Regulations

In residential areas, free-standing wind devices would only be allowed in side and back yards. A wind device blade must be at least 10 feet from the ground. A lot must be at least 10,000 square feet for a freestanding wind energy system.

Freestanding system maximum height is 60 feet tall in a lot less than 30,000 square feet; 80 feet in a lot between 30,000 and 129,999 square feet; and 100 feet tall in lots larger than 130,000 square feet.

A wind turbine system cannot exceed 55 decibels in residential areas and 60 decibels in other zoning areas.

Under the new regulations, freestanding solar power systems could be up to 15 feet tall and be installed in the side or back yard of a lot.

Single-family residential lots that are 30,000 square feet or less may install 100 square feet of solar panels in a yard; lots with other zoning would be allowed to have an unlimited amount of solar panels.

Alternative energy systems will require planning approval by the city.