12/9/08 What's in a Large Wind Ordinance? And How Does a Town Create One? A Look at the History, Research and Content of the Town of Union's Large Wind Ordinance, Step by Step. PART ONE And! How does an ordinance protect a township? The latest from the wind developer's lawsuits against the Towns of Ridgeville and Wilton.
This week, Better Plan, Wisconsin will be taking a step by step look at what it took to create the Town of Union's Large Wind Ordinance which was adopted on November 18, 2008.
This ordinance has a 2640 setback from residences and specific restrictions on turbine related noise for reasons of human health and safety.
It allows landowners and neighbors to sign a waiver if they wish to have turbines as close as 1000 feet from their homes but strongly protects residents who do not.
It regulates all aspects of industrial scale wind turbine construction, operation and removal in the town from restoration of roads damaged during the construction phase to removal of turbine foundations after decomissioning.
We consider it to be the most comprehensive and solidly researched large wind ordinance in the state and the very best ordinance available at this time. It's an ordinance the Union Town's Attorney stands behind and one Wisconsin townships can adopt with confidence.
So what did it take to get there?
First ingredient: 22 months of time and dedication by the citizens large wind turbine study committee and the Town of Union local government .
Diary of the Ordinance:
On August 2, 2007, the Town of Union adopted a temporary stay-- or moratorium-- concerning the construction of large wind energy systems to give the Town time to research and develop and appropriate ordinance.
On August 30, 2007, the Town of Union appointed a Large Wind Turbine Study Committee to study wind energy systems and make written recommendations to the Plan Commission on regulations to adopt.
The Large Wind Turbine Study Committee held 14 public meetings from September 2007 through January 2008 to research the health and safety effects of large wind turbines.
The Large Wind Turbine Study Committee prepared a Setback Recommendation Report dated January 6, 2008 and a draft Large Wind Systems Licensing Ordinance that was presented to the Plan Commission on January 31, 2008.
The Plan Commission requested the Town attorney conduct a preliminary review of the draft Ordinance and provide comments to the town board. The Town attorney provided such comments to the Plan Commission and the Town Board on February 25, 2008.
On March 6, 2008, the Town Board requested that the Large Wind Turbine Study Committee review and addres the Town's attorney's comments concerning the draft ordinance.
The Large Wind Turbine Study Committee submitted a revised draft Ordinance to the Plan commission on April 26, 2008.
The Plan Commission and Town Board held public hearings on May 29, June 5, and June 26 concerning the revised draft Ordinance.
The Plan Commission conducted six working meetings in addition to time devoted to regular Plan Commission meetings to develop a final draft ordinance for recommendation to the Town Board, and on October 30, 2008, unanimously recommended that the Town board adopt this Ordinance.
On November 18, 2008, the Town board unanimously adopts the Ordinance.
On that same night, after 22 months of dedicated work, the Large Wind Turbine Study Commission was released by the town board from duty.
SECOND INGREDIENT: 22 MONTHS OF DILIGENT RESEARCH WHICH RESULTED IN THE FOLLOWING FINDINGS:
1. Wind energy is a potential renewable and nonpolluting energy resource of the Town of Union, and its conversion to electricity may reduce dependence on nonrenewable, conventional energy sources and decrease the pollution that results therefrom. However, wind energy facilities should be sited in a way that protects the health and safety needs of the Town of Union residents residing near the large wind turbines, as well as the general public.
2. The regulation and installation of large wind turbines is necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Town of Union and the general public. Adverse health and safety issues are likely to arise if appropriate standards and setbacks are not followed in the siting and installation of large wind turbines.
3. It is appropriate to consider as relevant recommended standards for larve turbines from international organizations that have more experience with the use, siting and installation of large wind turbines than the U.S.
4. Wind turbine accidents have occurred involving ice throws, blade disintegration, fire and tower failure. According to the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, from 1999 through June 2008 there were over 500 accidents fro around the world, including North America, involving ice throws, blade disintegration, fire and tower failure from large wind turbines.
5. If improperly sited, wind energy systems produce electro-magnetic radiation that can interfere with broadcast communication and signals.
6. Heavy equipment used for the construction of large wind turbines can damage local roads.
TOMORROW, PART TWO: TOWN OF UNION STUDY COMMITTEE FINDINGS ON TURBINE NOISE
(Note from the BPWI Research Nerd: Unless your township adopts an ordinance, the state allows wind developers to site 400 foot tall turbine 1000 feet from your door. If you'd like to see what that looks like, visit the town of Byron in Fond du Lac County or CLICK HERE)
A decision in Monroe County Circuit Court on Nov. 26 allows vetoes made by the Towns of Wilton and Ridgeville to stand, putting a halt to a proposed project to erect wind turbines in the townships.
A ruling by Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Michael McAlpine upholds the townships’ vetoes of conditional use permits (CUP) that were granted by the Monroe County Zoning Committee last year. McAlpine’s ruling also reverses a ruling of the Monroe County Board of Adjustment (BOA) which affirmed a CUP for the Town of Wells, which will cancel that CUP as well.
Summit Ridge Energy LLC filed for CUPs for the towns of Ridgeville, Wilton and Wells in Monroe County last year. The applications for Ridgeville and Wells were approved in April of 2007, and the application for Wilton was approved in June of that year.
The permits would have allowed the developers to build 60 wind turbines within the townships. Ridgeville vetoed the CUP May 2007 and Wilton did the same weeks later on June 12. Both townships cited several reasons for the vetoes, and both included that the CUP applications were incomplete. In response to the vetoes, Summit Ridge filed a lawsuit, claiming the vetoes were not legal. In the decision, McAlpine wrote that the failure of Summit Ridge to include the locations of buried transmission lines gave the townships the right to veto the CUPs. Summit Ridge and the BOA argued that underground lines are not required to be mapped, but McAlpine disagreed, writing that without the location of the transmission lines, neither the Zoning Committee nor the local municipalities would be positioned to grant an informed approval. McAlpine also wrote that a section of state statute does restrict the ability of the townships to exercise a veto, but the only thing either township could base a veto on is that of “preserving or protecting public health or safety.”
“Summit Ridge omitting the location of below ground transmission lines from its map is dispositive,” McAlpine wrote.
McAlpine also said that he felt the Zoning Committee and BOA did fulfill their responsibilities and were conscientious in their efforts.
Earlier this year, the towns of Ridgeville and Wilton also created new wind energy ordinances. The Township of Wilton passed a Wind Energy Conversion Systems ordinance on July 8, 2008, after putting together a committee and looking at other ordinances from around the state. The 31-page Wilton ordinance allows wind turbines to be no closer than 2,640 feet from a home, or any occupied building. It also does not allow turbines to be built any closer than 1,300 feet from someone’s property line. The Township of Ridgeville passed a Wind Energy Conversion Systems Ordinance on Aug. 4.
8 December 2008