PETOSKEY – Emmet County planning commissioners will consider some additional rules for wind energy systems to be part of the county’s zoning ordinance when they meet Thursday, Feb. 6.
A regular planning commission meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the county building in downtown Petoskey.
The updates would include new decibel limits focusing specifically on low-frequency sounds produced by wind energy equipment, as measured along an adjacent property’s nearest property line. As proposed, applicants seeking approval for a wind energy system also would need to furnish zoning officials with plans for scheduled maintenance of the equipment.
The changes would follow some other updates county officials put in place for the wind energy policy in 2013.
During last year’s discussion, some planning commissioners noted concerns that low-frequency noises from wind energy equipment could prove particularly irritating, and that steps should be taken to ensure applicants are aware of the equipment’s upkeep needs.
But with concerns raised about whether the earlier wind energy policy would be defendable in court, the commission ultimately decided last year to focus on getting other details – including more general noise limits and standards for measuring the sounds – in place quickly, and to return to the low-frequency noise and maintenance topics at a later date, following some staff research.
When seeking zoning approval for wind power systems, the proposed rules would require applicants to furnish county officials with maintenance specifications to be followed. Manufacturer’s guidelines or the best management practices recommended by the American Wind Energy Association would meet this requirement.
“This is basically to make them aware that there are maintenance requirements that come into play on these systems so that they operate properly,” county planning director Tammy Doernenburg said.
Additionally, parties pursuing larger residential systems – standing more than 60 feet tall – or utility-grade equipment would need to keep written maintenance logs and furnish them to the zoning administrator if complaints arise about the system’s operation.
Changes proposed for Emmet County’s wind energy policies will get their first formal hearing when county planning commissioners meet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at the county building in Petoskey.
Typically, planning commissioners defer a decision on whether to recommend such policy changes until a second hearing at a later date.
Any position that the planning commission takes on the changes will serve as an advisory one for the county board of commissioners, which has final say on such zoning policy changes.
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