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Wind energy ordinance drafted for Bath County

Ryder began working on the ordinance in response to a request from the planning commission last month. The county is working with James Madison University on a field test of the Virginia Renewables Siting Scoring System, or VRS3. The test will use a scoring book to evaluate factors related to siting wind energy facilities in various parts of the county. However, work on the book is still not complete.

Work has begun on a proposed ordinance that would regulate wind energy facilities in Bath County.

County planner Sherry Ryder has completed the first draft, and the Bath County Planning Commission could comment on it for the first time at its meeting Monday night. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in room 115 of the Bath County Courthouse.

"This is nowhere close to being completed. This is still in very rough, rough draft form," Ryder said. "What I've got is nowhere close to being final."

Ryder began working on the ordinance in response to a request from the planning commission last month. The county is working with James Madison University on a field test of the Virginia Renewables Siting Scoring System, or VRS3. The test will use a scoring book to evaluate factors related to siting wind energy facilities in various parts of the county. However, work on the book is still not complete.

"We were trying to wait on JMU, but we decided since that was taking longer than we thought we would go ahead and start on something," Ryder said.

The ordinance would cover both small and large wind energy systems. A system would be defined as one consisting of a single wind turbine, tower, and... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Work has begun on a proposed ordinance that would regulate wind energy facilities in Bath County.

County planner Sherry Ryder has completed the first draft, and the Bath County Planning Commission could comment on it for the first time at its meeting Monday night. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in room 115 of the Bath County Courthouse.

"This is nowhere close to being completed. This is still in very rough, rough draft form," Ryder said. "What I've got is nowhere close to being final."

Ryder began working on the ordinance in response to a request from the planning commission last month. The county is working with James Madison University on a field test of the Virginia Renewables Siting Scoring System, or VRS3. The test will use a scoring book to evaluate factors related to siting wind energy facilities in various parts of the county. However, work on the book is still not complete.

"We were trying to wait on JMU, but we decided since that was taking longer than we thought we would go ahead and start on something," Ryder said.

The ordinance would cover both small and large wind energy systems. A system would be defined as one consisting of a single wind turbine, tower, and associated control or conversion electronics, with a capacity of no more than 50 kilowatts. The ordinance would consider multiple small wind energy systems on agricultural farms as separate small wind energy systems even if the total capacity is more than 50 kilowatts as long as the primary intent is to generate power for on-site use.

A large wind energy system would be defined as one that consists of one or more wind turbines and towers along with associated electronics with a capacity of more than 50 kilowatts.

Ryder said when looking for ordinances in other localities, she found there were no other ordinances in Virginia governing large wind energy systems. Most of the material on large systems was based on an ordinance in Ashe County, N.C., she said.

There were ordinances in the state for small systems, and those were used along with the Code of Virginia to come up with definitions in the proposed document. "I took those and added things to make it appropriate for Bath County. Much of the material was already appropriate for us," Ryder said.

At the October planning commission meeting, Ryder reported receiving an inquiry about whether Bath had a wind energy ordinance. The caller did not identify himself, and the Caller ID was blocked, but Ryder said she called *69 after the person hung up and found the number to be from the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area. Ryder said Monday she has not received any more calls, and the person who called her previously has not called back.

Some of the other definitions in the draft ordinance include:

• Crest: The uppermost line of a mountain or chain of mountain or a chain of mountains from which the land falls away on at least two sides to a lower elevation or elevations.

• Protected Mountain Ridgeline: Any mountain ridge whose elevation is 500 feet or more above the elevation of the adjacent valley floor.

• Ridge: The top of a mountain extending 100 feet down on the sides.

• Wind Turbine Height: The height above grade to the tip of the turbine blade when it reaches its highest elevation.

Small wind energy systems

The draft ordinance would allow small wind energy systems as a permitted use by right, under several conditions.

The height of turbines and towers would be limited to 125 feet, and they must be a distance of one and one-half times the height of the turbine from any property line. Relief from this requirement could be granted if the applicant can get a permanent easement from the adjoining property owners providing for a fall zone.

Clearance on blades would be at least 24 feet from their lowest point and the ground. The supporting tower would have to be enclosed by a six-foot fence or the base of the tower must not be climbable for a distance of 12 feet.

Building permits would be required for small energy systems, and applications would have to include drawings of the turbine structure. Also, an engineering analysis of the tower certified by a licensed engineer, including standards for ice and wind loading, would be necessary.

For small wind energy systems:

• They must comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations,

• The applicable utility company would have to be notified before construction,

• Towers and blades would have to be painted to reduce visual obtrusiveness,

• Any small energy system inoperable for six months would have to be removed,

• The applicant would have to provide proof of adequate insurance and generators, and

• Alternators would have to prevent the emission of radio and television signals.

Large wind utilities

Large systems would be required to meet the same requirements as small systems except for turbine height, setbacks and removal.

The draft calls for the height of turbines to be what is approved by the planning commission, and sets a maximum height of 199 feet.

No part of a large wind energy system could be located within 1,000 feet of any property line unless the system operator also owns or leases the affected property. The part of the wind energy system closest to the property line would be measured in a straight line to the property line.

Adjoining property owners or those who lease the adjoining property would be able to waive the 1,000-foot requirement. Waivers would be recorded in the clerk's office at the expense of the wind energy system owner.

No part of a large wind energy system could be closer to a public or private road than one and one-half times the height of the tallest turbine. The draft would require large wind energy systems to follow state and federal requirements for setbacks from streams, creeks, branches, rivers and other surface waters and obtain necessary permits for these.

The draft ordinance would prohibit any part of a large wind system from being located on any portion of protected mountain ridge if the height of the turbines exceeds the top of vegetation surrounding the system by more than 35 feet.

Noise could not exceed five decibels above the existing average decibel level on adjacent properties and in no event could the total noise exceed 45 decibels in any area surrounding the site except on the property the system is located on. The utility lines servicing a large system would need to be underground, unless that would be impossible.

Should a permit for a large wind energy system no longer be in effect, the draft ordinance would require the operator to tear the system down and return the property, as nearly as practical, to its condition prior to its construction.

Anyone seeking a permit for a large wind energy system would have to file an application with the planning commission. That application would have to include:

• Background information,

• Whether a certificate is required from the State Corporation Commission, and, if so, the schedule for obtaining the certificate,

• Information on compliance with state regulations,

• Site information,

• Design information,

• An analysis showing the effect the project would have on people, homes and businesses; noise, visual impacts, public services and infrastructure, cultural and archaeological impacts, recreational resources, public health and safety, possible hazardous materials, land-based economics such as agriculture, tourism and community benefits, job creation and tax projections, topography, soils, groundwater, surface water and floodplains, wetlands, vegetation, birds and bats, wildlife, rare and unique natural resources, interference with communication signals and fire protection at the site,

• Construction, operation, maintenance and insurance information; system would have to be designed in such a manner that shadow flicker or flashes of light from the blades does not impact sensitive areas,

• Decommissioning information, including the anticipated life of the project, the estimated decommissioning cost in current dollars, the method and schedule for updating the costs of decommissioning and site restoration, the method if making sure money will be available for decommissioning and restoration and the manner in which the system would be decommissioned and the site restored,

• A list of other agencies from which permits or approvals need to be obtained,

• Documentation of information provided to the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service or the appropriate state park system if the proposed large wind energy system is in the viewshed of any of these facilities,

• The application fee as set by the board of supervisors, and

• Certifications that the utility would always comply with the ordinance, that the system is properly permitted through all necessary agencies, that the system would not adversely affect the health or safety of people living or working in the vicinity of the system nor be detrimental to the public welfare, that the applicant has not previously operated a large wind energy system without county approval, that no permit issued to the applicant has ever been revoked and that the operator owns or leases the land the system would be placed on.

According to this draft, the planning commission would hold a public hearing before making a recommendation on approval or denial of a permit. No later than 60 days following that hearing, planners would make a recommendation to either the board of supervisors or board of zoning appeals, whichever would be designated under the terms of the ordinance to make the final decision.

Should a permit be approved, it would be effective until revoked under the terms of the ordinance, it is voluntarily surrendered by the system operator, or the large wind energy system does not operate for 180 or more consecutive days. Any expansion or alteration of a system would require a new permit.

The zoning administrator would be responsible for enforcing the ordinance if and when it is enacted. The criminal and/or civil penalties that could be imposed have not yet been determined.

The ordinance could be amended through a public hearing and subsequent recommendation of the planning commission and approval by the board of supervisors.


Source: http://www.therecorderonlin...

NOV 20 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/18020-wind-energy-ordinance-drafted-for-bath-county
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