LACON – As three wind energy developers consider projects in southeastern Marshall County, county officials are considering changes to some of the regulations in the zoning ordinance.
The county’s zoning committee has drafted proposed amendments that would increase the setback requirements on wind turbine towers, zoning administrator Patrick Sloan told the County Board Thursday.
For one, a tower’s minimum distance from a residence would increase from 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet or three times the turbine’s height, Sloan said. In addition, towers would have to be at least half a mile from the nearest incorporated area or unincorporated subdivision, Sloan added.
Another proposal would effectively increase setback distances by changing the way the height is measured. Instead of being measured to the hub, it would be determined by the height reached by the tip of a blade at its highest point.
That step would have the effect of increasing a tower’s minimum setback from public roads, power lines, communications towers, and the property lines of adjacent owners. That distance is now defined as the tower’s height measured to the hub, but measuring from the tip of the blade could increase it by about 50 percent.
The proposed amendments stemmed in part from the committee’s study of the standards used in the ordinances of neighboring counties, said Chairman Andy Stash.
“Basically, we looked at five different counties,” Stash said.
The proposed amendments will be considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals at a public hearing on Sept. 19, Sloan said. Final action would have to be taken by the county board.
Two of the developers eying projects in that quadrant of the county have erected meteorological towers to study wind conditions, and at least one has started working on a road use agreement. But none have yet brought a fully defined project to the county to apply for the needed special use permit, Sloan said.
The county already hosts part of one large wind farm in the western section. About 60 of the 100 turbines in the Camp Grove Wind Farm are in Marshall County, while the others are in neighboring Stark County.
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