NEW PHILADELPHIA Council’s Zoning and Annexation Committee voted Monday to have Law Director Marvin Fete draft legislation to regulation wind turbines in the city.
City officials have discussed the issue for the past several months in response to the completion of a wind turbine at the Schoenbrunn Inn and Conference Center on W. High Avenue in December.
Mike Scolati, the city’s zoning and building code administrator, explained the reasons why the legislation is needed.
“Because we had no legislation, they were able to do what they did,” he said in reference to the Schoenbrunn Inn turbine. “If we continue to have no legislation, they could put these things anywhere they want.”
The proposed regulations would restrict turbines to areas in New Philadelphia that are zoned industrial; would require a noise study before one could be erected; require a fall zone of one and a half times the height of the turbine to minimize the damage if one of them fell; and restrict turbines to one per parcel of land to eliminate the possibility of wind farms.
“Right now, we have no control over these,” Fete said. “There’s no voice for the citizens in any aspect of this. This gives us not only a voice but it gives us the ability to have greater control over the situation and make sure these meet our specifications. Right now we don’t have that.”
Fete added that he thought wind turbines are not feasible for this area, and he doubted any industry would want to put one up.
An audience member, Rome Marinelli of New Philadelphia, spoke in favor of wind turbines.
“I think we should be encouraging businesses to take on independent use of renewable energies,” he said. “I don’t think we should hinder them.”
He also applauded the Schoenbrunn Inn for putting up a turbine.
“I think what Schoenbrunn did is remarkable, and I hope more businesses follow that way,” Marinelli said. “I don’t care if they did it as a marketing scheme. I think that they’re ahead of the curve. I think that a lot of people will choose to stay there for that reason.”
He also clashed with Councilwoman Cheryl Ramos, the chair of the Zoning and Annexation Committee. He questioned her about comments she made in an interview with WJER on Jan. 23 about turbines, saying that she had said turbines were noisy and there are health issues related to them.
She responded that she based her comments on research she did on the Internet.
Marinelli pointed out that wind turbines make less noise than a lawn mower and that a study linking turbines to health issues has been debunked.
“Yet you went on WJER and said this study provides you with the evidence that wind turbines can cause harm to human health, which is not correct,” he said.
“I did not go on WJER and say that,” Ramos responded.
The Schoenbrunn Inn wind turbine is expected to generate an average of 250 to 300 kilowatts of electricity daily. The structure rises 160 feet from the ground.
The city had stopped work on the project Nov. 17 because the company building the wind turbine had not obtained the needed permits. Work resumed after the company obtained permits from the city, the East Central Ohio Building Authority and Federal Aviation Administration.
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