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Town approves rules for windmills PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Jaeger   
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 20:25

Restrictions placed on size, location of energy systems, conditional-use permits will be required

The Fredonia Town Board held a series of public hearings at the outset of last week’s meeting, and all three hearings drew the same response — silence.

Without additional input to consider, supervisors made quick work of the subjects of those hearings.

The greatest amount of prior deliberation went into the creation of an ordinance governing wind energy systems, also known as windmills. The issue was discussed several times by the Plan Commission prior to being presented at the public hearing.

Although relatively common, town officials realized they have no ordinance governing the structures until Bill Bertram approached them late last fall with plans to erect a power-generating wind turbine near Camp Awana and Jay roads.

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

Rather than focusing solely on his request, the Plan Commission crafted an ordinance that could be used to govern similar future requests.

Officials looked at rules put in place in surrounding communities, and set what they thought would be reasonable restrictions on the energy systems.

According to the ordinance, such systems will require that the owner receives a conditional-use permit from the town.

The wind turbines can be no more than 150 feet in height (as measured from the ground to the highest point of the turbine blade), and are limited to being able to generate no more than 150 kilowatts of electricity.

Windmills less than 20 feet in height are considered to be ornamental, and are not governed by the ordinance.

The ordinance limits the number of wind systems to one per property, a restriction that would eliminate large “wind farms” from being established in the town.

To ensure that the structures pose no threat to neighboring properties, the wind turbines must be 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.

The perimeter of the structures have to be enclosed by a fence at least six feet in height, according to the ordinance.

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

Although the public hearing on the ordinance drew no comments from the audience, Supr. Jim Stemper underlined the significance of the ordinance.

“The main thing is it is going to require a conditional-use permit, which means all neighbors are going to get notified,” Stemper said.

During the board meeting following the hearing, supervisors unanimously approved the ordinance.

Similarly, the board tweaked the town’s zoning ordinance following another uneventful hearing.

In that action, the maximum allowed size of accessory structures on parcels with R-1 zoning was increased from 1,000 square feet to 1,400 square feet.

That change was made after officials noticed that parcels with lesser zoning allowed larger structures.

Following yet another hearing, supervisors approved rezoning an 11.8-acre parcel along Highway 57 owned by Peter Klas from A-1 to A-2.

The change is being made so he can sell the divided parcel to his son.

After the rezoning was approved, the board also approved the certified survey map for the new lot configuration.

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