Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Ohio
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.
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.
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."
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.
Union Township trustees will have two issues to vote on at the Jan. 17 public hearing concerning wind turbine proposals. The meeting will be at 7 p.m in the Champaign County Community Center. Union Township Trustee President Doug Hurst said there will be no limit to the number of people who can speak, but each speaker will be limited to five minutes. According to Champaign County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Scott Schockling, the first issue is to vote on the Union Township Zoning Commission's recommendation to accept wind turbine regulations crafted by the zoning commission. The second issue is to vote on the zoning commission's recommendation to reject wind turbine regulations crafted by Union Neighbors United.
The battle over wind energy is heating up again in western Ohio. A decision by the Logan County Board of Elections on Friday cleared the way for a referendum on a township zoning amendment that sets guidelines for wind turbines. Landowners say the regulations, approved in the fall by the Jefferson Township zoning board and township trustees, are too lenient. They gathered enough signatures to put the issue before voters on the March 4 ballot. But late last month, attorneys representing the landowners who plan to erect the wind turbines --- towering structures that harness the power of the wind to produce energy --- filed a protest based on procedural errors with the petition.
Jefferson Township voters may get a say on how they feel about the township’s current wind turbine zoning ordinance if a Friday decision of the Logan County Election Board withstands any other legal challenges. Following a three-hour public hearing, Election Board Chairwoman Ann Beck read a two-page written decision in which the board rejected a challenge by township landowners to the issue being placed on the March 4 ballot. “I think they found the only way they could,” township resident and wind turbine opponent Keith Nason said. “Now the voters will get to have their say as they should.”
Jefferson Township voters may not get to decide whether they like the new wind turbine zoning ordinance after a group of pro-wind landowners challenged a petition to place the issue on the March ballot. Lawyers on Wednesday filed a ninepage motion asking the Logan County Board of Elections to nullify a petition containing the names of hundreds of voters because of errors in how it was submitted. Residents circulated the petition following the township trustees' failure on Sept. 19 to override a zoning resolution proposed by the wind proponents. Susan Reames, who lives on County Road 5 and helped circulate the petitions, said she believes there needs to be more community input into the final ordinance.
Comments of support and opposition were voiced Monday night about two proposed wind turbine zoning amendments — one of which was recommended for acceptance and the other for rejection. The Union Township Zoning Commission recommended that township trustees accept a proposal it drafted and reject a proposal submitted by Union Neighbors United, a group of residents concerned about wind energy development zoning issues. "If we put something on the books today it's not an end, it's a start," commission member Steve Bricher said. "Sitting here today, we have no guidelines for (wind turbine) placement."
Inconsistency with regulating wind turbines doesn't end with zoning. The county Building Department requires construction plans certified by an Ohio engineer before it issues a permit; Canton doesn't. The county's requirement could add another $5,000 in expenses because most wind turbines are shipped from outside Ohio or the country and do not contain plans certified by an Ohio engineer. "I don't want to stop anybody from building what they want, but it's my obligation under law to enforce the requirements of the code," said Stark Building Official Ed Stetz. He said wind turbines exceed residential standards so they must be regulated by the Ohio commercial building codes that require a professional designer's seal.
More proposals for wind turbine zoning regulations within Union Twp. were discussed Wednesday night. ...The commission decided to wait to vote on the proposal until a completed draft has been compiled and until the Wind Turbine Study Group - a new group created by the county prosecutor's office to examine the affects of wind energy development in the county - has had a chance to meet and submit suggestions.
The Champaign County Commissioners voted to support state and local wind energy projects Tuesday. The commissioners unanimously passed a resolution backing renewable energy development in the state and urging Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland to set a requirement for 20 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025.
According to a release sent Monday afternoon from the UNU, "Spokesperson Julia Johnson explained that the zoning amendment was withdrawn in order to support and encourage a more deliberate and coordinated assessment of wind turbine regulation in Champaign County." Johnson also said, "Townships in Champaign County are approaching this issue in a disjointed way. Since the time we submitted our zoning amendment, members of the Ohio Wind Working Group and the zoning and a subdivision committee of the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission have emphasized the need for a county or regional dialog on wind power regulation."
The Logan-Union-Champaign Region Planning Commission - based in East Liberty - reviewed the proposal, which had been passed on from the Union Township Zoning Commission last week for review. The LUC recommended the township zoning commission deny the proposal by Union Neighbors United - the group of township residents opposed to the turbines without more regulations.
After the meeting, when asked why the commission was discussing a more permissive proposal than it looked at originally, Runyan explained, "There are two very opposing sides to this; those that want no turbines whatsoever and others that want them because they get compensated very well. We can't please everyone, we just want something that will work for the community." However, Runyan did point out that none of the issues that were decided on by the commission were set in stone. "We are trying to get some general guidelines that we can live with."
The four giant windmills just outside of Bowling Green might be in for some company. In conjunction with JW Great Lakes Wind and American Municipal Power-Ohio, a joint-action group for municipal utilities, the city is investigating the idea of adding onto the state's only utility-size wind farm.