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County okays alternative energy system ordinance

Despite charges the proposal is too restrictive, the Lyon County Commissioners last Thursday approved a new ordinance to regulate alternative energy conversion systems, mainly dealing with wind energy.

Building Department Director Nick Malarchik presented a revised version of the ordinance, saying he had incorporated changes from the last time the proposal was discussed on March 1. The ordinance, an amendment of Title 10, adding chapter 21, “Alternative Energy Systems,” was approved by 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Vida Keller and Chuck Roberts opposed.

Malarchik has been working on such an ordinance for over a year and said felt the latest version was much less restrictive than earlier versions. He said besides taking it to advisory boards and to the Lyon County Planning Commission, which recommended approval, he had recently talked with vendors of wind-energy systems.

Keller said she had received some calls about the proposal and “we didn’t need to rush the vote.” She suggested the matter be delayed “to look into it further.”

Charlie Harris of Dayton said Nevada Revised Statutes limit what local governments can restrict and added that a communication with Malarchik concluded with Malarchik saying “we’ll agree to disagree” regarding whether his version violated that statute. Malarchick said he incorporated 10 of Harris’ 41 requested changes, but he couldn’t support the others. He also said he used that statute in his draft ordinance preparation.

NRS 278.02077 says a governing body “shall not adopt an ordinance, regulation or plan or take any other action that prohibits or unreasonably restricts the owner of real property from using a system for obtaining wind energy on his or her property” except as provided in subsection 2. It reads, “2. The provisions of subsection 1 do not prohibit a reasonable restriction or requirement: (a) Imposed pursuant to a determination by the Federal Aviation Administration that the installation of the system for obtaining wind energy would create a hazard to air navigation; (b) Relating to the finish, height, location, noise, safety or setback of a system for obtaining wind energy.”

Harris said his proposed ordinance only dealt with those restrictions listed, and John Nickerson of Stagecoach said he felt Malarchik’s version violated statutory rights while Harris’ version was “very reasonable.”

Malarchik noted he removed references to kilowatt maximums and restriction of one horizontal axis Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) if a parcel is less than 1 acre and of one WECS per acre. He also increased the permitted total height on parcels more than 5 net acres to 100 feet (remains 80 feet if less than five acres) and revised a portion on approval by a licensed engineer to “design of structure and foundation,” not “design of all components,” as manufacturers have their own engineering approval. However, Malarchik said he kept a building permit requirement for private and commercial WECS, although there had been some opposition to this.