Despite opposition from a handful of audience members, Culver’s town council Tuesday night passed on first reading a wind energy-related zoning ordinance in the works for nearly two years, and which had bounced back and forth between Culver’s plan commission (which first drafted the ordinance) and the council.
The ordinance aimed to regulate use of WECS (Wind Energy Collection Devices) erected in the area for personal – as opposed to commercial – use, as commercial wind turbines had been banned county-wide a few years ago.
Last year, the council voted to completely reject the ordinance, whose authors had argued it was needed in light of the total lack of regulations on WECS within Culver’s zoning boundary up to now.
Council members reconsidered the matter when some residents from the agricultural community emphasized the need for wind turbines in providing for cattle watering and other uses.
Last November, the plan commission unanimously approved a revised version of the ordinance which includes a number of requirements regarding setbacks and density of the turbines per acre. In conformity with county standards, WECS would be allowed to be 120 feet in height plus 20 more feet including their blade, but not in most zoning districts in the area. Where the turbines are allowed, requests would be examined by the Culver Board of Zoning Appeals on a case by case basis, said Culver building commissioner Russ Mason during Tuesdday’s council meeting.
Audience members Chester Gut and Hank Bilsland raised concerns as to the viisibility and other potential negatives stemming from WECS placed in allowed areas but affecting some properties in areas where they’re forbidden. Bilsland cited, among other concerns, the difficulty in enforcing removal of unusued or delapidated WECS in the future.
The new ordinance does allow for placement of some WECS within town limits, but Mason said specifications on them would more or less dictate than only ornamental windmills could meet the ordinance’s standards.
Audience member Sally Ricciardi pointed to the many months the plan commission spent crafting the ordinance, whose final version took into account a number of concerns and suggestions raised at previous meetings.
The council must pass the ordinance on second and third readings before it’s finalized, something expected to continue at the next council meeting, in February.
More information from the Jan. 27 Culver town council meeting is in the works.
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