Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Ohio
For the first time since talk of wind turbine development began in West Central Ohio several years ago, residents of Logan and Champaign counties got to see a close visual representation of the controversial structures. The designs, which included a map showing 78 proposed turbine locations - 15 in Logan County and the remainder in Champaign - and several photos superimposed with scale wind turbines, gave the 100-plus residents who milled through Everpower Renewables' open house Tuesday at Triad High School a view of the proposed project. ...
All the hand-wringing and fighting between area township officials and residents over wind turbine zoning, including a recent discussion about a moratorium, may well have been an exercise in futility if an amendment attached to the Legislature's annual spending bill gets expected approval in coming days. The amendment, which was introduced by Cincinnati area State Sen. Bill Seitz, would turn responsibility for guiding any wind farm development to the Ohio Power Siting Board, which currently only oversees developments that exceed 50 megawatt generation capacity. It would lower the minimum to 5 megawatts ...
The debate continues on the U.S. side of Lake Erie over what the new energy mix should look like. In Canada, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's administration has shown a strong preference for hydroelectric power and wind power. ...But Gail Krantzberg, a former Canadian chair of the International Joint Commission who's now director of McMaster University's Center for Engineering and Public Policy, said the McGuinty administration may have to buy dirty energy produced by coal-fired power plants in the Ohio Valley if it can't find enough viable ways to make up the difference. Wind, by its nature, can only be a supplemental source of power because it takes steady breezes to spin the turbine blades.
But the scope of wind energy development in Ohio is far from certain, Shanahan said. What developers say and do are sometimes two different things, and a lot of details still need to be hashed out. For one, projects exceeding 50 megawatts will have to be approved by the Ohio Siting Board, which has experience with a single power plant, but not with 70 to 100 turbines spread over a wide geographic area. Turbines must be well-spaced to ensure, among other things, that they don't steal wind from each other. And the electrical cables from each turbine must be tied into a nearby transmission line. ...There are also local zoning issues.
A group of Jefferson Township residents have filed an appeal against the township zoning appeals board's decision to allow a meteorological tower on the property of Ralph and Rick Amerine. The board of zoning appeals decided the issue April 30, but cited no clear reason why they believed Mr. Amerine and his representative, Roger Brown, should be allowed to construct the wind measurement towers.
At the conclusion of a somewhat heated 90- minute hearing, the Jefferson Township Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved a variance request by Ralph and Rick Amerine to install a 200-foot tower that collects wind data along Township Road 127. The towers are a preliminary step before siting of wind turbines can occur in the township. A similar request by State Route 540 property owner Roger Brown was postponed for two weeks so BZA members can talk with the Logan County Prosecutor's Office to decide if they need to notify property owners whose land does not touch the parcel in question but abuts other parcels owned by Mr. Brown. ...Their decision came after several residents cited concerns, specifically that some residents around the two properties had not received notification; the proponents had not adequately demonstrated a need to install towers; applications were incomplete and existing court rulings state approving such variances is beyond a zoning appeals board's authority.
Union Neighbors United wants to influence local politicians to focus on zoning regulations for alternative energy sources. Julie Johnson, a member of the group, stressed that they are in favor of alternative energy in general. Members even attended the recent seminar hosted by individuals from C.A.R.E., she said. Johnson said the group simply want local officials to be careful when creating zoning regulations for alternative energy sources. Zoning has been the focus of the group, she said. Organizers in Union Neighbors United were able to place a referendum on November's ballot challenging the townships's zoning regulations. C.A.R.E. and Union Neighbors United plan to continue focusing attention on their issues as similar proposals move forward in the county.
So maybe, some local officials say, before the towering turbines consume Ohio's landscape, guidelines will be established to help decide where they should go. "It feels like we've been down this road before," said Morrow County Commissioner Richard Miller. His board recently approved zoning guidelines for wind turbines, which can be up to 400 feet tall. He said Morrow County planners researched regulations in other states to come up with a blueprint. Miller likened the growing debate over placement of the turbines to the cellular-tower issues in the late 1980s and early '90s. Then, local officials across Ohio found themselves in the middle of disputes between property owners and wondering what they could do to control where the cell towers could go, he said. Some disputes ended up in court. Miller said windmills should be handled differently.
Wind-energy companies have set their sights on Ohio's high ground, so Morrow County commissioners are trying to stay ahead of the game by working out regulations for wind farms before a major controversy blows into town. As more townships and counties consider possible wind-energy developments, state legislators might have to take up the matter in the interest of consistent statewide rules. Officials in Logan and Champaign counties proposed wind-farm rules only after developers had proposed deals to local landowners, and would-be sellers and unhappy neighbors had formed opposing camps. The new rules quickly were challenged by a referendum petition in Logan County by opponents who don't think the rules are restrictive enough. The referendum was ruled off Tuesday's ballot because of a procedural error, but the acrimony isn't likely to fade.
As wind turbines become a more popular way to generate electricity for homes and businesses, at least one township in Wood County plans to adopt zoning rules that would regulate their use. The Wood County Planning Commission is scheduled to review amendments to the Milton Township Zoning Resolution tomorrow that would limit the turbines' height, color, and location. It would require a home or business owner to get a permit before installing one and submit an engineering report, site drawing, evidence of a clear fall zone, a maintenance schedule, a dismantling plan, and a list of all public and private airports in the area.
An issue that has been drawing controversy - the development of wind energy in Logan County - will not be decided by voters in Tuesday's election. ...Reames said calling them "farms" is deceptive. "We're not farming anything here," she said. "When you're talking about a 400- or 500-foot machine, you're talking industry." Among opponents' concerns, she said, is safety and allowing the community to have input, which she said they do not have. "These are not even a safe distance from home," she said. "Wind turbine accidents happen around the world."
County commissioners voted unanimously to approve zoning-code changes to regulate where wind turbines, a source of renewable energy, can be built. ... The zoning changes were prompted by interest from outside developers who want to build turbines in Congress and North Bloomfield townships, where zoning is controlled by the county. ...Commissioner Olen Jackson said he and his fellow commissioners support renewable-energy development but wanted to make sure they got the zoning issues sorted out properly because of their experience with the proposed construction- and demolition-debris landfill.
The Morrow County commissioners appear ready to approve regulations to control the placement of wind turbines, a source of green energy that has proved controversial elsewhere in the state. At a hearing yesterday, commissioners discussed changes to the county's zoning regulations that would, among other things, establish a permitting procedure for the wind turbines and, to some degree, control where they could go.
A referendum to retain or remove amendments in the zoning regulation will be on the Nov. 4 ballot. A citizens group called Union Neighbors United have collected more than double the 97 signatures needed on a petition for the referendum. The residents recently submitted the petition for referendum to Union Twp. Trustees and the Champaign County Board of Elections verified the signatures at its Tuesday, Feb. 12, meeting.
Jefferson Township residents who believe the township needs stricter zoning for wind turbines are incensed today over the Ohio Supreme Court's decision to remove a voter referendum from the March 4 ballot. "We filed this petition on time and government officials mishandled our documents," resident Tom Mazurek said. "Why should we be penalized? All we are trying to do is get a very weak zoning amendment passed by township trustees before the voters. I find this very communistic." The high court sided with property owners who challenged the referendum.
While state legislators have no real say in whether wind developers can come into the state, the three candidates for the 83rd House District seat offered their opinions Thursday on what should be done to help improve the situation. ..."The issue arises because of how township zoning works," said Mr. Burke, a pharmacy owner and former Marysville councilman. "That's its weakness and it's why a lot of big corporations pick townships rather than municipalities to do business with. I think the state needs to help townships fill in the gaps. "Working with large developers to design and review plans is not the forte of township officials," he said. "All across the state, it's costing money and headaches and the state needs to aid townships in those kinds of issues."
The Wind Truth Alliance Group hosted a "Meet the 83rd District Candidates" meeting at Tree Links Golf Course Thursday evening. Wind truth Alliance is a local citizen-founded organization established to promote the truth about wind turbines in Logan and Champaign Counties. ...The Wind Truth Alliance Group is working towards responsible regulations for the wind turbines. The group talked about the deficiencies in the current ammendment. There is nothing in the current ammendment to require that roads be restored to preconstruction conditions. The turbine parts are heavy and require heavy machinery to move and install them, which over time will cause damage to roadways.
During Thursday's public hearing of the Union Township Trustees, members of the Union Neighbors United reported that a state level organization, Ohio Wind Working Group, would come out, publicly, with statewide recommendations for the zoning of wind turbines on Friday. According to OWWG representatives, this is not case. ...Diane McConnell, Union Township resident and member of UNU, said her organization attends the OWWG meetings, but is not involved with the decision making because it is not a voting body. "We assumed, with their discussions, they would come up with a resolution," said McConnell. "It looked as if they were going to approve something today (Friday)," she added. "In retrospect, it was naive to expect quick action by a governmental entity. Right now all we can do is wait and see what they do."
The Union Township Trustees voted on Thursday to make Union Township and Champaign County the leading body in Ohio concerning wind turbine zoning regulations. In a 2-0 vote, the trustees voted to approve the Union Township Zoning Commission's recommendation to accept its own wind turbine zoning resolution. Trustee President Doug Hurst abstained from voting due to a conflict of interest, making Howard Peters and James Virts the deciding trustees. The two also voted unanimously to approve the commission's recommendation to reject a zoning proposal crafted by Union Neighbors United. ...There are four major points of concern the UNU has with the zoning recommendations approved by the trustees. "The 1,000-foot setback from your home is unsafe and an arbitrary figure with no basis in science," ...The fact that there is no noise testing required ...The height limit also presented a problem for the UNU. According to McConnell, 500 feet is the height for offshore wind farms and shouldn't be used on land.
The Logan County Wind Power Committee continues to make progress in its efforts to draw up recommendations for township wind turbine zoning ordinances. But it may not be fast enough for some residents who want to make sure the towering structures do not begin going up on nearby properties without assurances they are safe. “This is the first time they have had an in-depth discussion on any real issues,” Jefferson Township resident Linda Mazurek said after the committee discussed noise issues Wednesday morning. “But I don’t know that we are a lot further along than we were six months ago. It’s been long enough to get recommendations and keep this going.” The committee was formed last spring by county and township officials, the Logan- Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission and representatives of wind power companies. They had hoped to have guidelines for wind turbines in place by early this year, Logan County Engineer Scott Coleman said.