The World Health Organization’s “Guidelines for Community Noise” state: “Measurable effects of noise on sleep begin at…levels of about 30 dB. The WHO’s report “Burden of Disease From Environmental Noise” states: “Epidemiological evidence indicates that those chronically exposed to high levels of environmental noise have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction. Thus, noise pollution is considered not only an environmental nuisance but also a threat to public health.” http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/136466/e94888.pdf
The effects of exposure to audible and low-frequency sounds are cumulative over time. The science of noise modeling cannot predict sound levels consistently. The only safeguard is setbacks of at least one mile or restrictive zoning.
Michigan Law states: “A zoning ordinance shall be based upon a plan designed to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare…to reduce hazards to life and property…[with consideration for] the conservation of property values and natural resources…” Notice that “health, safety and welfare” begin the ordinance.
Local planning commissions who fear developer threats can limit tower height to under 200 feet, limit noise at property lines to 30 dBA, require the consent of adjoining property owners, limit electricity production to twice that used by the township, require setbacks of 10 times the diameter of the rotor from adjoining property lines, refuse to permit turbines requiring FAA-mandated lighting, require transmission lines be placed underground, require siting that does not affect migratory birds, require turbine noise not exceed background sound by 3 dBA.
These provisions, and more, have been in place in Centerville Township, Leelanau County for years without legal challenge. Johnecheck v. Bay Township ended wind developer lawsuits against restrictive/exclusionary zoning in Michigan because developers lost. Twice.
Victoria L. Brehm
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