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Commissioners refine turbine proposal

As a safety precaution, residential wind towers would be banned within 1,000 feet of schools under new zoning rules proposed in Cascade County. ...Different setback rules - the height of a wind tower in addition to the blade length plus 20 feet - are proposed when wind towers are proposed in the vicinity of private property.

As a safety precaution, residential wind towers would be banned within 1,000 feet of schools under new zoning rules proposed in Cascade County.

But an exemption that would have allowed schools to skirt that rule in order to put up their own turbines has been dropped, Planner Joe LaForest said.
Schools still would be able to propose towers, but now they would need to get a variance first from the Board of Zoning and Adjustment, LaForest said.

The 1,000-foot setback is being proposed to protect schools in the event of falling malfunctioning wind towers, but Chairman Joe Briggs had argued that exempting schools from the setback, which was designed to protect them, was contradictory.

"On one hand we'd like for schools to have them," said Briggs, referring to wind towers. "On the other hand, if there really is a safety concern, it's probably not appropriate."

On Monday, LaForest said the exemption for schools would be taken out of the proposed rules based on input from commissioners, who will conduct a public hearing this morning on modifying a number of zoning rules, including those affecting wind farm development.

Commissioner Peggy Beltrone had supported the exemption for... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

As a safety precaution, residential wind towers would be banned within 1,000 feet of schools under new zoning rules proposed in Cascade County.

But an exemption that would have allowed schools to skirt that rule in order to put up their own turbines has been dropped, Planner Joe LaForest said.
Schools still would be able to propose towers, but now they would need to get a variance first from the Board of Zoning and Adjustment, LaForest said.

The 1,000-foot setback is being proposed to protect schools in the event of falling malfunctioning wind towers, but Chairman Joe Briggs had argued that exempting schools from the setback, which was designed to protect them, was contradictory.

"On one hand we'd like for schools to have them," said Briggs, referring to wind towers. "On the other hand, if there really is a safety concern, it's probably not appropriate."

On Monday, LaForest said the exemption for schools would be taken out of the proposed rules based on input from commissioners, who will conduct a public hearing this morning on modifying a number of zoning rules, including those affecting wind farm development.

Commissioner Peggy Beltrone had supported the exemption for schools because she sees towers as vocational opportunities for students. On Monday, she said she had no problem with the county handling proposals near schools on a case-by-case basis via the variance process.

The county doesn't have that many schools, she noted, and even fewer high schools, where wind towers tend to be proposed.

"There's nobody that's chomping at the bit to put in wind generation within 1,000 feet of schools," Commissioner Bill Salina added.

Different setback rules - the height of a wind tower in addition to the blade length plus 20 feet - are proposed when wind towers are proposed in the vicinity of private property.

The new rules would cover towers 50 kilowatts or less located in residential, mixed-use and industrial zones including Vaughn, Sun River, Simms, Fort Shaw and Centerville, LaForest said.

The new rules would not apply in the towns of Cascade, Belt or Neihart, which have the authority to make their own rules, nor would they affect large commercial wind turbines proposed for agricultural lands, LaForest said.

Besides the wind tower rules, modifications for regulations on animal ownership and "non-conforming" uses are proposed as well.


Source: http://www.greatfallstribun...

JUL 14 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21167-commissioners-refine-turbine-proposal
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