YORKVILLE – With the city looking at how to accommodate residents or businesses that might want to use wind power, at least one city official said windmills are not welcome at all.
Alderman Carlo Colosimo, 1st Ward, suggested this week the city could even ban windmills, which he called “inefficient” and an “eyesore.”
“Are we required to allow them, or can we just ban them?” Colosimo said. “Let’s look at what we’re required to do and what we aren’t.”
His comments came during discussion this week at the City Council about a proposed new chapter in the city’s zoning ordinance. City officials have spent years rewriting the zoning ordinance to update it, and one of those proposed changes is a new chapter titled “Alternative Energy Systems.”
The chapter would tie together previous language for wind systems with other solar applications.
Krysti Barksdale-Noble, Community Development director, said officials “spent about four months” on the energy systems section alone. They brought in experts in the different energy fields to consult with them, and also looked at how other cities handle alternative energy applications.
These applications have become more of an issue with cities as people put them into their individual homes and businesses.
But Barksdale-Noble noted that not every property is able to use wind power, because it requires a property owner to be able to have room to install a windmill that is high enough to get enough wind to generate enough power to make it worthwhile.
To be eligible under the proposed new chapter and considered small, the windmill would generate between 1½ kilowatts to 15 kw. There are larger ones that would go higher, but generally those would be on business properties.
Another limiting factor is that the ordinance says a free-standing windmill has to be set back from the property 1.1 times as far as the windmill is high. That would mean that if the windmill fell, it would only be on the property owner’s land.
So, on some properties, the owners would not have enough setback to get the windmill high enough to generate a worthwhile amount of power.
“Those people couldn’t do it,” Barksdale-Noble said. “They would have to use solar.”
Solar applications, such as panels or passive solar applications, would be included in the ordinance, too.
One reason the city is moving the new section forward is that the Yorkville school district is due to apply for a windmill on a specific school property. The district has gotten a grant to install a windmill, which would be 70 feet high.
Most applications would be 30 to 50 feet high, with a maximum of 175 feet high, for a business application.
It is the bigger, higher windmills that Colosimo specifically objected to. He said he could not vote for the ordinance if it allows 175-foot-high windmills.
“I don’t want them brought into the city limits,” he said.
Amy Cesich, a Yorkville resident who also is a County Board member, told the council allowing wind energy, as well as solar, is just catching up with the times. She said she hopes the council will allow them.
“I’ve been sitting here stewing about the idea of windmills being banned,” she said.
Aldermen voted unanimously to send the zoning chapter back to the Economic Development Committee for further study.
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