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Zoning commission votes to prohibit wind energy conversion systems

The Clinton County Planning and Zoning Commission brought an abrupt and simple end to the county’s efforts to revamp its wind energy regulations last night.

The zoning commission voted to entirely prohibit “commercial wind energy conversion systems” in Clinton County on Thursday, September 1, seemingly a major victory for residents who coalesced in opposition to a previously proposed wind project by NextEra Energy. The commission voted unanimously (8-0).

Officially, the approved motion – which was made by zoning member Stephen Mowry – repeals county zoning ordinance 13.11 as it pertains to commercial wind energy conversion systems and would replace it with the prohibition language. Before the ban can go into effect, it will need to be approved by the Clinton County Commissioners.

The zoning commission instituted a moratorium on all wind energy applications in December 2015 in order to review the county’s wind energy regulations. That process – which started in June and wrapped up last week – included expert testimony and evidence concerning amendments to the zoning regulations put forward by the turbine opposition group Concerned Citizens for the future of Clinton and DeKalb Counties.

Yesterday, the zoning commission opened the floor to public participation, which was overwhelmingly in favor of stricter regulations and protections. The zoning commission was expected to deliberate before deciding what, if any, amendments to propose, but that ended with last night’s decision to prohibit large-scale wind turbine projects throughout the county.

The motion approved Thursday makes allowances for smaller wind conversion systems, which are restricted to a capacity of no more than 100 kilowatts and is less than 120 feet in height.

The Clinton County Commission is expected to receive the zoning commission’s decision this coming Tuesday, September 5.