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New wind turbine regs stall; Board not sold on Planning Commission`s proposals

The Estes Park Board of Trustees opted not to act Tuesday night on a set of recommendations for new regulations for wind turbines that the Estes Valley Planning Commission approved last month as Trustee Eric Blackhurst wondered if there was really a need for additional rules at all.

The Estes Park Board of Trustees opted not to act Tuesday night on a set of recommendations for new regulations for wind turbines that the Estes Valley Planning Commission approved last month as Trustee Eric Blackhurst wondered if there was really a need for additional rules at all.

By the end of the discussions that scuttled the proposed code amendments -- as written and for now -- the board seemed likely to differentiate between micro systems and larger ones when it does act.

A moratorium on the erection of new wind turbines within town limits was enacted in August and, in December, extended to Mar. 8, while the town board debates how -- and even if -- to regulate what town planner Dave Shirk said are now correctly termed "small wind energy conversion systems."

Public interest in new regulations for wind turbines has been keen. Shirk said the Planning Commission has received more than 50 pages of written comments.

"A lot of folks showed up and we had a lot of public input," Shirk said of three meetings on the topic in November and December. "We`ve been hearing a lot of input from both sides."

Blackhurst said he has been asking for months what the basis of the need to regulate is without receiving an answer that... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Estes Park Board of Trustees opted not to act Tuesday night on a set of recommendations for new regulations for wind turbines that the Estes Valley Planning Commission approved last month as Trustee Eric Blackhurst wondered if there was really a need for additional rules at all.

By the end of the discussions that scuttled the proposed code amendments -- as written and for now -- the board seemed likely to differentiate between micro systems and larger ones when it does act.

A moratorium on the erection of new wind turbines within town limits was enacted in August and, in December, extended to Mar. 8, while the town board debates how -- and even if -- to regulate what town planner Dave Shirk said are now correctly termed "small wind energy conversion systems."

Public interest in new regulations for wind turbines has been keen. Shirk said the Planning Commission has received more than 50 pages of written comments.

"A lot of folks showed up and we had a lot of public input," Shirk said of three meetings on the topic in November and December. "We`ve been hearing a lot of input from both sides."

Blackhurst said he has been asking for months what the basis of the need to regulate is without receiving an answer that satisfied him.

"If the need to regulate is noise, we have a noise ordinance," he said. "If the need is setbacks, we have a setback ordinance. If the need is height, we have a height ordinance. Because nobody wants it in their view is not a need to regulate."

The recommendations, sent to the board by the planning commission on an unanimous vote on Dec. 15, include: allowing turbines in all zoning districts under the same set of rules; a 30-foot height limit; a five-to-one setback-to-height ratio, with units having a swept area under 15 square feet exempt; a prohibition on lighting turbines, and ridgeline protection areas where they would generally be prohibited; a minimum clearance from the ground, a maximum blade speed, a maximum swept area of 400 square feet and requirement that turbines be kept in safe operating order; a maximum output of 35 kilowatts; and a limitation to one per lot as an accessory use to a dwelling only.

Shirk said that those who oppose wind turbines do so mainly on the basis of aesthetics, and argue that if people want wind power, it should be bought from the Poudre River Power Authority. He said supporters of wind turbines oppose the special setback requirement as discriminating, while others see attempts to regulate wind turbines as a violation of personal property rights.

While Blackhurst seemed to lean toward lax regulations, Trustee Jerry Miller had concerns about the safety and upkeep of installed units.

"Our sign code is more restrictive than this," he quipped.

Trustee Richard Homeier saw the regulations as a de facto ban.

"I have trouble with the fact that we`re using a lot of words to ban them, at least the big ones," he said.

That comment seemed to spark a recognition of the difference between small turbines and large ones.

"Let`s not lump something non-controversial into a bigger thing," Homeier urged the board.

A second reading on the proposed amendments was scheduled for Feb. 22, but the board decided it did not have a consensus on changes to the proposals it needed to direct staff.

"I have a lot more research to do before I can make a decision," Blackhurst said.

Homeier suggested the moratorium on small units could be lifted.

"There are people who want to put up (micro wind generators) now, and no one`s arguing about those," he said. "Let`s deal with the big ones later."


Source: http://www.eptrail.com/ci_1...

JAN 28 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24357-new-wind-turbine-regs-stall-board-not-sold-on-planning-commission-s-proposals
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