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Commission refines windmill rules PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Jaeger   
Wednesday, 14 December 2016 19:24

Town to hold public hearing on conditional-use restrictions, including limiting generators to 150 kilowatts

The Town of Fredonia Plan Commission is ready to accept public input on a proposed  ordinance that will regulate wind-energy systems, commonly known as windmills.

Town Chairman Richard Mueller and other commission members began studying the issue this fall, when Bill Bertram told town officials he wants to erect a power-generating wind turbine near Camp Awana and Jay roads.

Bertram said he would like to put up a 100-foot Endurance monopole turbine that would generate about 5 kilowatts of electrical power.

The request caught town officials off guard, largely because there appeared to be no local regulations on wind turbines.

A preliminary ordinance was prepared for consideration at the commission’s November meeting, but members agreed more work was needed before the proposed ordinance could be forwarded for a public hearing.

Pulling from similar regulations used in other communities, Mueller presented a revised draft ordinance for commission review last week. According to the ordinance, such systems would be allowed only after the owner receives a conditional-use permit from the town.

Addressing one of the more technical questions, the draft ordinance says private energy systems would be limited to being able to generate no more than 150 kilowatts of electricity.

“From what I’ve read, that is about enough power for 15 homes. That is probably where we want to max out,” Mueller said.

Commission member Steve Jentges agreed that his research indicated 150 kilowatts was a reasonable limit.

“What I also learned is that this whole business is not cheap. Alternative energy is not cheap energy at all,” Jentges said.

The draft ordinance also specifies that the wind turbines can be no taller than 150 feet, with greater restrictions possible depending on neighbor concerns and site topography.

The height is to be measured from the ground to the highest point of the turbine blade.

Smaller, ornamental windmills of 20 feet or less would not be covered by the ordinance.

The windmills would also have to be setback at least 1.1 times their height from any road right-of-way, property line or utility line.

Owners of permitted wind turbines would also have to “take reasonable steps to prevent and eliminate any interference” with microwave, radio, telephone or television signals on neighboring properties.

A wind-energy system that is out of service for a continuous 12 months would be deemed abandoned, and the owner would be required to remove it within six months.

If the owner of the tower fails to remove an abandoned tower, the property owner — in the case of a tenant — would be held equally responsible for removing the structure.

That point was of special concern to town officials, because rural parcels are often rented.

The commission had previously agreed to limit the number of wind systems to one per property, a restriction that would eliminate large “wind farms” from being established in the town.

Supr. Chris Janik, who also serves on the commission, gave the draft ordinance prepared by Mueller a ready critique.

“I think you’ve addressed our concerns pretty well,” Janik said to Mueller.

The commission then unanimously agreed to forward the ordinance to a public hearing before the Town Board in January.

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