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Planner urges new turbine zoning

An amendment to the city's zoning ordinance regarding additional rules and regulations for wind energy systems was recommended to the mayor and council Tuesday in order to help protect the city's character and integrity. "In a nutshell, (the amendment) says that only small wind turbines will be allowed as an accessory use in most zones, subject to a public hearing and approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals," said City Planner David Umling.

CUMBERLAND - An amendment to the city's zoning ordinance regarding additional rules and regulations for wind energy systems was recommended to the mayor and council Tuesday in order to help protect the city's character and integrity.

"In a nutshell, (the amendment) says that only small wind turbines will be allowed as an accessory use in most zones, subject to a public hearing and approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals," said City Planner David Umling.

If passed, one of the first changes to the ordinance will be in the Definitions Section.

"The definition section will be amended to include definitions for large and small energy systems," Umling said. "A small wind energy system will essentially be a wind turbine with a maximum rated generating capacity of 15 kilowatts. Any wind turbine with a greater generating capacity will be a large wind energy system."

Two new definitions will be added to the Use Regulations Table, which lists specific uses permitted in the various zoning districts. Umling said the change will allow small wind energy systems as conditional accessory uses subject to approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals in all zoning districts except the Viewshed Protection Overlay Zone... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

CUMBERLAND - An amendment to the city's zoning ordinance regarding additional rules and regulations for wind energy systems was recommended to the mayor and council Tuesday in order to help protect the city's character and integrity.

"In a nutshell, (the amendment) says that only small wind turbines will be allowed as an accessory use in most zones, subject to a public hearing and approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals," said City Planner David Umling.

If passed, one of the first changes to the ordinance will be in the Definitions Section.

"The definition section will be amended to include definitions for large and small energy systems," Umling said. "A small wind energy system will essentially be a wind turbine with a maximum rated generating capacity of 15 kilowatts. Any wind turbine with a greater generating capacity will be a large wind energy system."

Two new definitions will be added to the Use Regulations Table, which lists specific uses permitted in the various zoning districts. Umling said the change will allow small wind energy systems as conditional accessory uses subject to approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals in all zoning districts except the Viewshed Protection Overlay Zone and the Conservation Zone; large wind energy systems will be prohibited throughout the city.

The viewshed zone encompasses the densely forested portions of Haystack and Wills Mountains on either side of the Narrows and the southwest-facing slopes of Shriver Ridge. The Conservation Zone is found in scattered areas around the city, including the portions of Haystack and Wills Mountains on either side of the Narrows, most of the floodplain along the North Branch of the Potomac River, substantial areas along the Interstate 68 corridor, and an area of low-lying wetlands between Cumberland Country Club and Allegany College of Maryland.

The specific standards and requirements for all small wind energy systems will be listed in a subsequent part of that same section.

"Statements will be added to the sections governing the Conservation Zone and the Viewshed Protection Overlay Zone to state that both small and large wind energy systems will be prohibited in those zones," Umling said.

The last change will be the addition of a statement to note that a small wind energy system will be subject to minor site plan review and conditional approval of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Umling said the new regulations are based on extensive staff research over a one-year period as well as coordination and exchange of information with planners in Allegany County and Frostburg. The regulations for each community have been tailored to each local government's respective needs, he said.

"The current zoning ordinances in the area did not specifically address wind turbines in a clear or meaningful way," Umling said. "The city needed better guidelines to govern the height and location of small wind turbines; prohibit large-scale, industrial wind projects; and require a public hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals to give neighbors an opportunity to have their concerns addressed."

He said the city decided to focus on small wind energy systems designed to serve individual energy consumers because of the limited areas where large industrial wind projects could be sited. The only areas where wind could potentially support larger projects were along the summits of Haystack and Wills Mountain.

"A massive wind energy project on those ridge lines would have a dramatic visual impact on the city and would greatly alter the city's scenic mountain backdrop on either side of the historic Narrows," Umling said. "These potential impacts were determined to be incompatible with the city's longstanding efforts to protect these ridge lines through the adoption of the Viewshed Protection Overlay Zone."

The first reading of the amended ordinance was passed and tabled at Tuesday's mayor and City Council meeting and can be viewed by the public on the city's Web site at www.ci.cumberland. md.us.


Source: http://www.times-news.com/l...

AUG 6 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21591-planner-urges-new-turbine-zoning
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