Stringent restrictions recommended by the Maysville-Mason County Joint Planning Commission will prohibit large-scale wind turbines to be erected in the county, if adopted by city and county officials.
The JPC Board met Wednesday to vote on the finding of facts, conclusions of law and recommendation related to wind turbines in Mason County. In a final vote of 6 to 1, the recommendations passed.
Wednesday’s action to approve the recommendations ends the board’s seven month involvement in what has been a controversial subject since May 2013. It was at that time residents of May’s Lick learned Duke Energy Renewables was in dialog with several property owners to lease land for the construction of large-scale wind turbines, should data prove the area could sustain such a project.
The recommendations will be sent to members of Mason County Fiscal Court and the Maysville Board of Commissioners. Those legislative bodies can either adopt the recommendations in whole or part, as part of the process of drafting ordinances regulating wind turbines within the city and county.
The final recommendations follow those established during JPC meetings held in June and July.
Restrictions on large industrial wind turbines include: turbines could only be located in areas of the county zoned rural industrial (I3); one mile set back distances without any waivers whatsoever, from the following: property lines, public roads and right-of-ways, community zones, incorporated cities/towns, platted subdivisions, public or semi-public structures such as schools and/or churches, historical landmarks, cell towers, electric transmission lines, railroads, and to strictly follow any regulations as set out by the Kentucky Airport Zoning Commission; noise restrictions not to exceed 30 dB(A) scale at any non-participating property line and less than 50 dB(C) scale, both as measured by an independent third party expert engineer chosen by the Planning Commission and paid for by the turbine owner.
Existing locations of rural industrial zones in the county are: on the western end of the county in Dover; at the western end of the city limits on Kentucky 8 near East Kentucky Power Cooperative; and in the eastern end of the county in Plumville near the Carmeuse Lime and Stone mine.
The recommendations, if adopted by county officials, would eliminate the threat of large industrial wind turbines of being located in agriculture zoned areas.
The JPC has also decided to treat small to mid-scale wind turbines as accessory use by right.
The accessory use classification is attached to windmill power produced at a principal site, for use only at that site.
An example of an accessory use turbine is located on the property of the Mason County Area Technical School on Kenton Station Road. Considered a small turbine, it produces energy specifically for use at the school and not for other sites or purposes.
Under the recommendation to classify small to mid-scale turbines, the following restrictions were recommended: such accessory use must meet the setback and height regulations of the zone in which it would be located, and shall be at least 1.1 times the height of the tip of the blade from any structure whether on the principle lot or any adjacent lot. The height it not exempt from exceptions under Zoning Code 406.4. The board further recommends the county and city address: abandonment, over-speed control, electromagnetic interference, and insurance coverage by the property owner.
Noise levels for small to mid-size turbines are recommended at less than 30 dBA and less than 50 dBC.
It is also recommended any meteorological towers used to test wind efficiency in Mason County receive approval by the JPC before placement of the tower.
The JPC moved forward with the process of setting wind turbine regulations despite the fact Duke Energy Renewables and NextEra Energy Resources both officially discontinued potential wind turbine projects in the county in May of this year.