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Zoning board says ‘yes' and ‘no' to windmills

Members of the Elkhart County Board of Zoning Appeals got a taste of the wind power debate during their meeting Thursday morning. One petitioner's bid for a wind-powered generator was granted and another denied. ...Anita Miller, a nearby neighbor of Ntende's, voiced her concerns over possible dangers, such as electrical surges or falling debris due to the proposed windmill's proximity to surrounding homes and electrical lines.

Members of the Elkhart County Board of Zoning Appeals got a taste of the wind power debate during their meeting Thursday morning. One petitioner's bid for a wind-powered generator was granted and another denied.

The first case to be heard was that of Martin Ntende, 19122 C.R. 40, Goshen, who was petitioning for a special use permit to construct an electric generator and 50-foot windmill on his property. The property is located on the south side of C.R. 40 in Elkhart Township.

"I would like to relieve my family of the high NIPSCO bill I've been suffering through these past few years," Ntende said when asked of his reasoning behind the request.

Concerns over the petition were plentiful, however, stemming primarily from the proximity of the proposed windmill to the surrounding residential area.

Anita Miller, a nearby neighbor of Ntende's, voiced her concerns over possible dangers, such as electrical surges or falling debris due to the proposed windmill's proximity to surrounding homes and electrical lines.

Miller also raised concerns over who will be regulating the construction of the windmill, as currently there are no rules on the books for regulation of windmill construction in Elkhart... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Members of the Elkhart County Board of Zoning Appeals got a taste of the wind power debate during their meeting Thursday morning. One petitioner's bid for a wind-powered generator was granted and another denied.

The first case to be heard was that of Martin Ntende, 19122 C.R. 40, Goshen, who was petitioning for a special use permit to construct an electric generator and 50-foot windmill on his property. The property is located on the south side of C.R. 40 in Elkhart Township.

"I would like to relieve my family of the high NIPSCO bill I've been suffering through these past few years," Ntende said when asked of his reasoning behind the request.

Concerns over the petition were plentiful, however, stemming primarily from the proximity of the proposed windmill to the surrounding residential area.

Anita Miller, a nearby neighbor of Ntende's, voiced her concerns over possible dangers, such as electrical surges or falling debris due to the proposed windmill's proximity to surrounding homes and electrical lines.

Miller also raised concerns over who will be regulating the construction of the windmill, as currently there are no rules on the books for regulation of windmill construction in Elkhart County.

"Who supervises the building of windmills in Elkhart County?" Miller asked the board members. Zoning staff members said only electric companies have any say in windmill regulation.

Following Miller's comments, Ntende acknowledged that safety is an issue when a large windmill is in a residential environment. He assured the board that he would do all he could to minimize the potential risks.

"People are concerned - I understand that," Ntende said. "I would not want to be sleeping and have a windmill land on my head either."

Concerns were also noted by the board over the possible aesthetic repercussions of a windmill installation in a residential neighborhood.

"It may be quiet, it may be perfect, but in the end, you still have to look at it," said board member Tom Lantz.

Board member Meg Wolgamood said she felt zoning was an issue, because regulations do not allow the construction of a tower, such as a large windmill, in a residential neighborhood.

In the end, the board agreed that while times are tough and personal electricity generation is obviously growing more popular, current regulations do not allow the construction of a large windmill in a residential zone, and the petition was unanimously denied.

"I think that wind generators are obviously something that are becoming very popular very fast," said board member Robert Homan. "But regulations now say this can't go there."

Request approved

Things went a bit more smoothly for petitioner Donald Florea. In a similar petition to Ntende's, Florea requested a special use for the construction of a wind generator and 60-foot tower on his property, located on the south side of C.R. 24 in Concord Township.

However, a primary difference between the requests of Florea and Ntende centered on Florea's home being located on a large lot in a rural part of the county.

According to a report by the zoning staff, wind generators are permitted in agricultural zones, noting that a property just to the west of Florea's already has a windmill present.

Taking into consideration the recommendation of the staff, the board unanimously approved the petition.

However, in light of the many concerns and issues raised over Ntende's petition, board members acknowledged that more work must be done in order to establish a solid framework for wind power regulation in the county.

"Today really points out how urgent our county needs to look at this," Homan said, noting that everything from environmental impact to residential proximity and zoning issues will need to be sorted out if such situations are to be avoided in the future.


Source: http://www.goshennews.com/l...

APR 17 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19868-zoning-board-says-yes-and-no-to-windmills
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