SPEARFISH — After being tabled on the first day of November in 2010, an ordinance that would provide rules about wind energy systems within the city of Spearfish is set to come back to the table in 2015.
The last draft of the ordinance presented to the Spearfish City Council in 2010 restricted wind energy systems to the heavy or light industrial districts in town, by use permit on review, and the ordinance draft also gave the city council the option to restrict the systems to vertical axis or both vertical and horizontal axis systems.
At the time, council members had mixed feelings about the proposed ordinance, and then-Mayor Jerry Krambeck voiced his opposition to allowing wind generators within city limits. Councilmembers Travis Geppert, Mary Morgan and Paul Young said they would like more time to investigate wind energy and avoid rushing into an ordinance, so the item was tabled.
City Planner Jayna Watson addressed the Legal, Finance, and Public Safety and Public Works committees last week to determine whether the council would be interested in revisiting and renewing the discussion, considering the advances to wind systems in the last few years and the presence of more wind generation systems in the county outside of city limits. Councilman Dave Baker, Greg Brandreit of Elkhorn Ridge Golf Course, and resident Jared Capp expressed interest to Watson in renewing the discussion.
“I am fully in favor of bringing this back to the table,” Baker said during the committee meeting. “We should be fully supportive of green energy, and if somebody wants to put it on their property, we will work with them to make it happen. I don’t see any drawbacks.”
The committees were open to reviewing their past conversations about wind energy and revisiting the topic. Councilman Doug Schmit said he was open to looking at an ordinance that limited the possibility to industrial areas, citing a concern with allowing it in residential areas.
City Administrator Joe Neeb reminded the committees that there are wind energy systems installed right outside of city limits.
“The idea is to get standards into place as to how they will be allowed because I believe we’re going to end up acquiring them as we continue to grow out, so we might as well have standards as to how to deal with them,” he said.
Baker added that many larger businesses have corporate policies requiring green energy, and allowing wind energy could help to draw businesses to Spearfish.
“It’s going to be around us no matter what, and I think the best thing to do is make sure we do the study and come up with an ordinance that can work …” Councilman Paul Young said during the Public Works committee meeting.
Watson said the review of the wind generation ordinance would not begin in earnest until after the first of the year, and Capp and Brandreit offered their help in answering questions or providing information to the council about wind energy systems.