Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from North Carolina
Carteret County planners were hit with both praise and criticism this week as work continued on a draft ordinance that would regulate wind turbines and other tall structures in the county. A resident who has followed the development of the ordinance closely and called for provisions protecting the public's safety defended the results of their work. ..."It is not the planning commission's responsibility to find an acceptable location for utility-scale wind turbines in our county if none exists. They are, however, responsible for making sure utility-scale turbines stay out of unacceptable locations."
The County Planning Commission was able to finish Thursday reviewing the wind turbine section of the draft tall structures ordinance but still has to go over the communication towers portion. The commission agreed during its special meeting in the boardroom of the administration building to keep the maximum setback for the tallest of utility-scale wind turbines at 3,300 feet. And after three hours of deliberation, the board was ready to make a recommendation on the wind turbine section to county commissioners with only one significant change regarding wind speed.
The County Planning Commission is due to take on the draft tall structures ordinance again Thursday, but a Down East property owner who has a proposed wind farm waiting in the wings says the newest setback regulations for utility-scale wind turbines are too constraining. The planning commission meets at 5 p.m. Thursday in the boardroom of the administration building in hopes of approving a recommendation for the tall structures ordinance, which addresses wind turbines and communication towers, to forward to the County Board of Commissioners before the moratorium on tall structures expires in November. ...The draft originally put setbacks at 1,600 feet or 2.5 feet times the height of the turbine, whichever is greatest, for turbines between 200 and 550 feet tall. With the 3,300-foot-setback, seven properties in eastern Carteret County would still be able to have several utility-scale wind turbines, according to a map compiled by the County Planning Department. Those properties include Luken's Island Timber, Weyerhaeuser Co., Open Grounds Farm, N.C. Coastal Federation, United States of America and more.
The wind turbine section of the county's draft tall structures ordinance is going back to the planning department for changes in setbacks for utility scale turbines, waivers and more after a thorough reading Thursday night by the County Planning Commission. The issue garnered mixed feelings from the public during the planning commission's special meeting in the boardroom of the administration building, as some supported the draft ordinance and the proposed setbacks in it while others felt their earlier comments regarding human health near wind turbines "fell on deaf ears."
Currituck planners decided Tuesday to uphold the county's new wind energy ordinance and oppose a request to exempt small wind turbines from setback requirements. Dean Karico of East Coast Windpower asked the Currituck Planning Board to recommend approving a text amendment ...that exempts small-system wind turbines from property line setbacks. The current ordinance allows small-scale residential turbines, up to 120 feet in height, on lots at least 20,000 square feet. However, the turbine must be set back from property lines by one foot for each foot of the structure's height.
In my humble opinion when any organization actively pursuing wind power options, promoting legislation that would support those options and taking it upon themselves to define responsible siting criteria publishes a "model" ordinance, it's going to be an ordinance promoting the interest of wind production and wind producers. And what could have prompted the need for wind proponents to create their own model ordinance? Well, according to Brent Summerville, wind program manager at ASU's Energy Center, "Some wind ordinances have passed that are not favorable to utility scale wind development.
A complete version of the draft ordinance regulating wind turbines and communication towers was presented Thursday to the County Planning Commission, and while the ordinance now addresses noise, shadow flicker and more, there are still several steps to go before the draft is proposed to county commissioners. Planning Commission Chairman Harry Archer said now that a significant amount of research has been done and an initial draft has been developed, comments obtained during three public comment meetings recently will be used to modify the draft.
While some at the meeting said they opposed wind turbines in the county because they would take away from the county's aesthetic beauty and would simply be dangerous in an area known for heavy winds, others felt the county had some areas that would be appropriate for large-scale turbines. Catherine Elkins of Gloucester said she supported the work done on the ordinance so far and was happy it wasn't being designed around the wind farm being proposed for 33 acres near Golden Farm Road in Bettie. ...The project sparked much debate across the county and prompted county commissioners to enact a nine-month moratorium to allow staff time to develop an ordinance. The moratorium expires in November.
The County Planning Commission will hold the second of three public comment periods to obtain citizens' opinions regarding the draft proposed ordinance to regulate tall structures. The special meeting is slated for 5 p.m. Thursday in the boardroom of the administration building. The draft ordinance addresses wind turbines and communication towers.
When Joseph Betz of Cape Carteret bought property near Bogue Field, he moved into his home expecting to hear the sound of military aircraft flying overhead. That was his choice. But Betz said the Golden Wind Farm project proposed for a community in Down East Carteret County would be an imposition for which residents haven't asked. "For the people down there, it is not an existing condition," he said. ...Betz said the proposed plans by Nelson and Dianna Paul of Raleigh could put turbines of 350 feet or more, which he described as "monstrous," in the middle of the community. "This is not a couple of hundred-foot windmills; these are massive structures," he said.
Local opposition is knocking the wind out of efforts to promote renewable energy, but whether coastal ordinances that halt or tightly regulate electricity-generating windmills have them down for the count remains to be seen. The latest setback came in March, when Carteret County imposed a nine-month moratorium. In January, Currituck County started restricting where they can be built. "We're faced with something we know little about," says Doug Harris, chairman of the Carteret County commissioners. "We're looking at something that, from sea level to the tip of the blade, could be 470 to 490 feet tall.
While Thursday evening's special meeting of the County Planning Commission was intended to provide the board with the cell tower section of the tall structures ordinance, the floor was again opened to public concerns regarding the controversial wind turbines. ...The men's main concerns were in regard to low frequency noise and vibrations produced by large turbines and said the best way to resolve those issues was to ensure there were large setback requirements in the ordinance. "A mile and a half to 1.9 miles is what is suggested," Mr. Randy said. And Bob White with the AES Corp., an independent power producer in Apex, said his company, which has offered the town support during the draft process, had already imposed a setback limit of 1.1 to 1.5 miles or 1,812 feet, regardless of noise, when close to residential areas.
Raleigh entrepreneur Nelson Paul cleared the first hurdle Thursday toward building a 4.5 megawatt wind power plant in Bettie, east of Morehead City. The state Utilities Commission today approved the proposed project on condition that the wind farm is permitted locally by Carteret County and also cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration. Carteret County has imposed a moratorium on wind farms as officials there seek to establish regulations for the structures in coastal areas.
Carteret County planners got a look this week at a first draft of proposed rules for wind turbines, but they are letting the public have a say before they finalize anything. Public meetings will be held in the western, central and eastern areas of the county in May and June to present the proposed rules to the public and get citizen input. ...The maximum height of turbines for a utility-scale project would be 500 feet with a 2.5-foot setback for each foot of height. The minimum lot size would be 25 acres. The planning commission did not discuss the contents of the draft regulations but heard from residents with an interest in the ordinance.
The County Planning Commission got the first peek Wednesday at a budding ordinance that will eventually regulate wind turbines and other similar tall structures. While no action was taken and no discussion was held on the matter during the board's special meeting in the boardroom of the administration building, the board was given what has been drafted so far for the wind energy portion of the Tall Structures Ordinance to take home and study. ...A nine-month moratorium on wind turbines and other tall structures was enacted in March by the County Board of Commissioners in response to opposition to three utility-scale wind turbines being proposed for 33 acres on Golden Farm Road in the Down East community of Bettie. Commissioners approved the moratorium to allow the County Planning Department time to build an ordinance.
A Raleigh couple whose proposal to construct a windmill farm in Down East Carteret County has drawn recent controversy say the moratorium the county has now put in place for wind turbines and other towers was the first indication they had from the county of its concerns. The Carteret County Board of Commissioners approved a nine-month moratorium this week on the permitting of electricity-generating wind turbines, towers and other tall structures while the county staff devises regulations for their use in the county. ..."Maybe we would have (expressed concern) if we had any idea they were talking about structures nearly 500 feet in the middle of a residential community," Langdon said. And it's only been since the Pauls went to the Utilities Commission that the community has reviewed the plans and voiced its concerns.
Too often the energy companies have allowed claims about renewable energy to go unchallenged. Experience shows that once the public learns about the effects, those expectations fall back to Earth. Just look at wind power in North Carolina, if you can. Wind farms haven't gotten off the ground here because, thus far, North Carolinians have objected to looking at a wind turbine larger than a hamster wheel. On Monday, Carteret County decreed a nine-month moratorium on wind turbines, after residents complained about potential noise, vibration, harm to wildlife, visual blight and a host of other concerns. Who knew wind turbines were as dangerous as a Navy outlying landing field?
Though most people agree that North Carolina needs to develop cleaner energy sources, the enthusiasm apparently ends at the backyard. Carteret County residents turned out at a public hearing Monday night to raise questions about the prospect of living near wind turbines that would dwarf the Cape Lookout lighthouse and stand taller than the Wachovia building in downtown Raleigh. After hearing residents' concerns about the proposal to build a commercial-scale wind farm in coastal Carteret, county commissioners passed a nine-month moratorium on issuing permits for wind turbines.
Carteret County commissioners adopted a moratorium Monday on issuing permits to build windmills. The action followed a public hearing in which an impassioned and overflow crowd mostly agreed the county needs more information. A total of 17 signed up to speak for and against the concept of wind energy in a hurricane-prone county. They focused specifically on the location and plans for the proposed Golden Wind Farm near the community of Bettie. That proposal is now before the N.C. Utilities Commission. The moratorium passed unanimously and will allow the county nine months to study wind-energy technology and its use and regulation nationally and in coastal areas.
The same areas along the North Carolina coast recognized for the winds that can generate power are also prone to hurricane-force winds that generate a force of their own. That's a concern for Carteret County resident Stephanie Miscovich, who lives near the site of a proposed wind energy project that would put three wind turbines in the Down East community of Bettie. "We're known for our winds but we're also known for our extreme winds, and we need to take note of that," she said. Plans for the Golden Wind Farm project now before the N.C. Utilities Commission call for three windmills below 500 feet when measured from sea level to the highest reach of the blades.