Last February, the Planning Board was tasked by the Newport City Council to create a wind ordinance, since the city did not have any zoning provisions regulating wind turbines other than general regulations.
The City held a workshop Wednesday night for the board to present their findings and the ordinance.
According to the proposed Wind Energy Systems ordinance, wind energy systems should be accommodated in “appropriate geographic locations, while simultaneously protecting the public health, safety and welfare.” Utility sized turbines were deemed “inappropriate” for Newport.
Turbines would be prohibited in local Historic Districts. Large scale turbines greater than 100 kilowatts are also prohibited.
All turbines require an approved building permit and are subject to city noise limits.
Residential scale turbines would require a 10,000 square foot minimum lot, while a minimum lot of 40,000 square feet is required for commercial turbines. Residential turbines would not exceed 10 feet about a roof ridge line, while the maximum height for commercial turbines would be 50 feet.
A majority of Newport has been deemed as a “no turbine” area.
A map of commercial, residential and restricted areas can be found in the gallery to the right.
City Councilor Justin McLaughlin questioned why the Planning Board had left no room for consideration regarding restricted areas in Newport’s local historic districts with large lots with potential use for turbines.
“It seems we too quickly said ‘no’,” McLaughlin said.
Members of the Planning Board said the map was approached from a conservative standpoint and that turbines in those areas do not fit with Newport’s Comprehensive Plan.
However, the comprehensive plan, as well as zoning restrictions, can be modified by the council.
Councilor Kathryn Leonard commended the Planning Board for their work on the ordinance, calling it a “conservative, reasonable approach.”
Newport resident and Energy and Environment Commission Co-Chair Beth Milham said her main concern was that the “blanket prohibition” was too restrictive.
Newport is not a museum, she said, adding that some restricted areas are the ones with the best wind resources.
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