It took more than a year of debating, researching and modifying, but Montgomery County Commissioners approved an amendment to the county’s ordinance regulating noise levels of wind turbines at a meeting in July.
“This is an improvement from what we had in 2009,” commissioner president Jim Fulwider said during the July 9 meeting. “I don’t see how it’s not a step in the right direction. I think we did our due diligence and gave this the time to look into and listen.”
The ordinance regulates noise produced by wind turbines and sets the limit at 50 decibels, down from 60 decibels as in the previous ordinance enacted in 2009.
Setbacks were also adjusted requiring a buffer zone surrounding wind turbines. A distance equal to 110 percent of the height of a wind turbine or 1,500 feet, whichever is greater, is required between a wind turbine and the property lines of non-participating homeowners on five acres of land or less. A distance equal to 110 percent of the height of a wind turbine or a 1,400-foot buffer, whichever is greater, is now required between wind farms and the nearest primary structure – residence or commercial building – for non-participating landowners with five or more acres of land. And a distance equal to 110 percent of the height of a wind turbine or a 1,000-foot buffer, whichever is greater, is required between wind turbines and primary structures owned by participating landowners.
It’s been a long, drawn out, and frustrating issue for both supporters of wind farm development and those against it. Though the ordinance specifically regulates noise from wind energy conversion systems, those opposed tried to use the amendment process as an opportunity to block wind farm development all together. Opponents cited everything from health concerns to potential future financial burdens for the county should wind farm development not work out.
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