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A regional planning commission denied Union Twp.'s wind turbine zoning resolution Thursday, calling the proposal "too restrictive." The Logan-Union-Champaign (LUC) Regional Planning Commission's zoning and subdivision committee said the setback and tower height regulations are too strict.
How comforting to learn that your County Board considers you an enemy. To learn it feels that it must protect itself from you. To learn that when it extends its arms it is to embrace outsiders whose only interest is to make a profit from your misery. To learn that "home seller" protection and "non-participating landowners" protection really means "County Board" protection.
A national study of wind energy points out what advocates of a Lake Erie wind farm have emphasized - the lack of policies and guidelines at all levels of government adds complexity and time to wind projects.
A new federal proposal to help electricity flow more freely could help the energy-choked East Coast. But it could also infuriate landowners, who have traditionally gotten their way in fights against utilities in Delaware. U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman last week named Delaware as part of his proposed eastern National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor. It would run from New York to Virginia, and west to Ohio. A second corridor would run through California, Arizona and Nevada.
he United States Department of Energy issued a proposal yesterday that could reopen the way for a 190-mile high-voltage transmission line through central New York that state and local officials tried to block last year. The department declared a multistate area from West Virginia to upstate New York a "National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor," where congestion of existing power lines makes the electricity grid unreliable and subject to blackouts.
CABLE - It was standing room only as residents of Wayne Township, as well as a few from other areas, attended the Wayne Township Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday to get information regarding wind turbines. Kevin Sheen, vice president of Everpower Renewables, was present to answer the many questions the residents raised. Everpower Renewables is a New York-based company that also is courting land owners in Union Township for wind turbine development. Those present expressed concerns regarding the height of the turbines, where they will be placed, how the machines operate and the benefits and hardships the community would reap by having wind farms.
Ohio has greater-than-expected potential for wind power, according to a new federal study. The latest modeling shows that a number of areas in Ohio have sufficient wind at heights of 100 meters to support commercial turbines that would produce clean electricity, said Dennis Elliot of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
As controversy continues to swirl around proposals to erect wind turbines in the county, a committee was formed recently to review and draft zoning proposals to regulate them. Officials from the Logan County Prosecutor's Office and the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission named a 10-member committee to determine what information should be included in any zoning regulations enacted by the townships in Logan County, Prosecutor Gerald Heaton said Thursday. By state law, the prosecutor is the legal counsel for the townships, and currently, he said, there are no regulations in place concerning wind turbines. "The whole purpose of this group is to get information," the prosecutor said, "sufficient information so the townships can make an educated determination as to what they want to include in their zoning."
In a 4-1 vote Wednesday, the Union Township zoning board abandoned its initial proposal for wind turbine regulations. Instead, they adopted zoning guidelines suggested by 10 township residents, as opposed to submitting a zoning proposal modeled after one in Logan County to the regional planning commission. The board has worked since January to draft preliminary regulations for the placement and construction of wind turbines. The document states that a turbine can be placed 1,000 feet from a residence and 500 feet from a roadway. The new proposal suggests a wind turbine should set 2,100 to 2,600 feet from any property line and not exceed 300 feet in height from its base to the tip of the blade.
Wind energy opponents would like to see strict regulations while land owners hoping to earn up to $6,000 annually for housing a turbine say they prefer more liberal ordinances. As a result, Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission has taken steps to bring the two sides together to discuss zoning issues and reach a consensus, said Jenny Snapp, commission's executive director. In addition, Champaign and Logan counties recently adopted ordinances - and are working on others - that will regulate where turbines can be placed. The ordinances are the first of their kind in Ohio.
The Union Twp. Zoning Commission has drafted preliminary zoning regulations for proposed wind turbines. Everpower Renewables, a New York-based developer of wind energy projects, has met with the zoning commission and township landowners to propose constructing at least 10 wind turbines on the east side of Champaign County. Each turbine can produce 2 to 3 megawatts of energy, which could power about 8,000 homes annually, the company said. Zoning commission members said they do not have authority to approve the project, but had to create guidelines for possible construction. The commission modeled its regulations on Monroe Twp. in Logan County, which has spent a year preparing for the installation of wind-energy towers. Discussion March 14 focused on the required distance between the 400-foot wind turbine and a residence. Initially, the draft stated a turbine would have a 500- foot buffer, but Linda Gordon, a homeowner, said that was too close, and urged that it be at least 2,000 feet away. "It's like looking at a Twin Tower," Gordon said. "Every time I look out my picture window, I'll have to see that thing humming outside my property." Commission members said that distance would not only prevent farmers with only 80 acres of land from placing a turbine on their property, but make it impossible to construct them within the township. The commission reached a consensus on having the turbines set 1,000 feet away from a residence and 500 feet from a roadway. Everpower representative Michael Speerschneider said this could ease some concerns because the height could be imposing in some residential areas. The commission will hold a public hearing on the draft regulations at 7 p.m. April 18 in the Union Twp. Building.
Brown's lawyer, David Watkins, represents three landowners and is negotiating with two companies that he says will pay at least $8,500 each year plus a share of their profits for every turbine they can put on Logan County land. Brown says he knows of 22 property owners with a collective 2,000 acres interested in such a deal. Another group of landowners, however, opposes the plans and says the green-energy benefits of wind energy don't outweigh the negatives of noise and aesthetics. Mike Stolly lives in Jefferson Township, not far from Brown's farm. He said since word spread this winter that power companies were serious about moving in, "It's like we're in mourning. People are devastated that this will ruin our countryside." In the heat of the debate, boards of township trustees are scrambling to decide how, or whether, to change zoning laws to control placement of the turbines. "It's like the adult entertainment business. You cannot prohibit it, but you can regulate it," said Jenny Snapp, director of the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission.
More than $1 million could be spent in the coming months pursuing offshore wind power in Lake Erie, even though the region just lost out on a bid to have East Toledo host the nation's first testing laboratory for offshore wind turbine blades. A $250,000 wildlife study, funded by a grant the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority obtained from U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), recently began along the western Lake Erie shoreline. The goal of that study is to get the region's clean energy and wildlife proponents on the same page over the risks posed to birds and bats. The next phase would involve putting two or three wind turbines along the western Lake Erie shoreline as early as the summer of 2008 to see just how lethal the devices might be. Sites have not been selected, but they likely would be between Toledo and Lorain, Ohio.
The Union Township Zoning Commission has drafted preliminary zoning regulations for proposed wind turbines. Everpower Renewables, a New York-based developer of wind energy projects, has met with the zoning commission and township landowners to propose constructing at least 10 wind turbines on the east side of Champaign County.
Proponents call wind power an environmentally advantageous energy source. Opponents in Logan County, where giant turbines may be placed, disagree. The state’s only wind farm, as seen in 2004, is near Bowling Green. Logan County is home to the highest point in Ohio, so maybe it was just a matter of time before someone realized it is windy there. And maybe it was just a matter of time before someone decided to build giant turbines to convert that wind to energy. At least one power company says it aims to put up at least 20 turbines there. That many turbines would dwarf the only wind farm in Ohio, and some local landowners are saying, "Go away." The critics say wind farms aren’t green enough and don’t really help reduce reliance on other forms of power.
A few landowners in Logan County might have the opportunity to lead the way in Ohio with the largest wind power operation in the state if the plans of a few green-energy companies prosper on properties in Jefferson, Monroe and Rushcreek townships. However, the proposed construction of up to 120 wind turbines in as soon as a year, each up to 550 feet tall, might be a bad move the community will have to live with for a long time, opponents say. Nearly 100 local residents met Tuesday afternoon at Marmon Valley Farm to discuss the implications of turning Logan County into what would fast become the largest wind power community in the state, while several posed the question: Are developers and landowners moving too quick with a decision that will affect the local community and disturb Logan County’s historic and scenic landscape for generations to come? After extensive research, Tom Stacy of Zanesfield, and others, believe so. “This is a way to shelter big company profits from taxes,” Mr. Stacy said. “It’s a symbol; it’s a monument that we’re doing something to conserve energy. The only thing is: It’s not conserving energy. They want to put up at least 100 to 120 of these things soon and it’s going to devastate the property values and scenery around them for miles.”
Joe Short, a Fulton County commissioner, said the county is already looking at how they could use the parcels. “What we are doing is actively pursuing alternate sources of energy such as wind power,” he said. The commissioners recently asked the regional planning department to get a wind map of the county to find the best places to put wind mills. That map was then overlaid with the map of unused/underused state land parcels to see if those sites were viable. “We’re seeing if those areas will be a good place to put windmills,” he said.
State incentives aimed at developing wind energy in Ohio could mean a breath of fresh air for Rock Creek’s plan to erect a electricity-producing turbine in Conneaut. On Thursday, Gov. Ted Strickland announced $5 million in grants will be available to communities and others who develop wind-based energy programs.
Three more signs of northwest Ohio’s budding interest in wind power emerged yesterday. They were: •Bowling Green’s utilities director saying that his city is contemplating more commercial-sized wind turbines. •Fulton County commissioners saying that they might want to explore their county’s potential as a host site. •Gov. Ted Strickland saying that he was following through with an incentive program for wind power production and manufacturing. The program stems from a bill passed by the General Assembly in late 2006 and signed into law by former Gov. Bob Taft during the waning hours of his administration.