A week from today, the Sherwood Township Wind Energy zoning ordinance will go into effect requiring a special use permit to erect wind turbines in the township.
The amendment was approved last Thursday in a special township meeting by Treasurer Dale Marie Brubaker and Trustees Marjorie Whitcomb and Fred Haack.
Supervisor James Smith and his mother Clerk Denise Smith did not participate because of a conflict of interest. Both have signed leases on land to allow for construction of turbines on their property.
The amendment divides wind energy facilities into two categories. One is an on-site system designed primarily to power a single home, business, or farm. The second is the one resulted in two years of often controversial hearings. These are commercial systems designed primarily to provide electricity to the energy grid.
Both types of wind energy facilities require a special use permit from the township in order to be constructed and operate.
Consultant Chris Khorey, of McKenna Associates, explained limitations adopted.
Within the AG Agricultural, R-1 Residential, R-2 Residential, and C-1 Neighborhood Business Districts, property owners are eligible to apply for a special use permit for an on-site wind energy system.
Only properties in the AG Agricultural district are eligible for a special use permit for a utility-scale system.
Lots must be at least three acres to have an on-site wind energy facility, but if the turbine is over 40 feet tall, the minimum lot size increases to five acres. For utility-scale facilities, there is no minimum lot size, provided that all setback requirements are met.
The setbacks for on-site wind turbines is at least 300 percent of their height.
Utility-scale setbacks differ depending on whether the parcel is “participating” or one whose owner has signed a lease or other agreement with a utility company or “non-participating,” whose owner has not signed a lease or other agreement.
There is no setback from property lines of participating parcels, but there is a setback of 250 percent of the height of the tower from any occupied dwelling on a participating parcel. Non-participating parcels are protected through a setback of 500 percent of the height of the tower, or 1,500 feet, whichever is greater, from the property line of any non-participating parcel.
For the large commercial wind turbines, there are other setbacks.
McKenna prepared a map showing the areas which meet setbacks. Korey said there are areas where special permits can be granted so it meets state law allowing the use in the township.
The ordinance also includes requirements for decommissioning, insurance, safety, security, and construction.
McKenna is also consulting on wind turbine ordinances for both Matteson and Batavia townships, where DTE has signed leases. The fourth, Union Township, does not have zoning regulations.
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