Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from South Dakota
Ordinances governing wind energy systems, which are to be developed within a county, have a wide ranging effect on the local geography and economy. Local participation in ordinance drafting is a great advantage of county lawmaking. This leaves an opportunity for county commissioners to make the public, its local residents, “partners” in this lawmaking. There should be little uncertainty in ordinance language, it should be transparent, and the end product should favor open public participation in wind farm applications.
A proposed wind farm expansion in Campbell County has prompted local officials to consider adopting temporary planning and zoning controls. A “large delegation” of residents voiced their concerns over the proposed 39-turbine expansion of the existing 55-turbine wind farm owned by ConEdison, according to the July 6 Campbell County Commission meeting minutes.
State Rep. Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham, was at the meeting to explain the options the county has. ..."There was a substantial amount of residents from Campbell County who were there because they were concerned about what little information they had about what was going on" Gosch said.
Editor's note: The existing ordinance, without amendment, includes a setback distance for non-participating homes of at least 1,500 feet from the closest exterior wall. For projects using towers that stand over 500 feet, setback distances are increased by 2 1/2 feet per every foot over the 500-foot height.
Commissioner Lee Gabel, however, proposed an amendment that essentially increases the distance towers must be located from the properties of both those who will accept towers on their land and those who won’t. On a 3-2 vote the commissioners agreed to take action on the amendment at their June 7 meeting. They could not do so Tuesday because the public must be allowed time to view the changes.
“We really need to get something on the books as far as an ordinance much sooner than later,” Supervisor Erik Underberg said in January. “Without an ordinance we are not doing anything in the best interest of the county.”
It took two working sessions and eight total hours, but the Codington County Planning Commission finally has revised wind tower ordinances proposals ready to put up to a formal commission vote.
Landowners south of Harrold, South Dakota who are opposed to a planned wind farm slated to be built on neighbors’ properties, spoke for more than 20 minutes Monday urging the Hughes County Commission to increase the distance that wind turbine towers would be required to be sited from homes. The argued that the Commission’s plan to increase the setback distance from the current 1,000 feet in the county’s zoning ordinances, to 1,400 feet wasn’t going far enough and requested a minimum 1 mile between any large windmill and any home. The Commission adopted a the 1,400 setback distance.
A judge on Monday ruled in favor of the Clark County Commissioners’ decision to keep wind towers a minimum of 3,960 feet from residences. The decision could affect the outcome of the Crocker Wind Farm planned by Geronimo Energy of Minneapolis.
There's no denying it's windy in South Dakota, but South Dakotans are denying wind turbines.
After about 40 minutes of a sometimes-heated discussion involving about 20 people, the Hughes County Planning and Zoning Commission decided on Monday to go ahead with a revision of its ordinances, increasing the minimum setbacks on large wind turbines from neighboring homes. ...the county’s zoning commission’s proposed amendment that would increase the setback distance of wind turbines from a neighbor’s residence from 1,000 feet to 1,400 feet.
The vote was 57-42 percent in favor of a requirement that all turbines be placed at least a half mile from all habitable dwellings in the county. Heavy turnout from southern Lincoln County was the deciding factor, with universal support for the stricter setbacks in every city south of Tea, and the precincts closest to the proposed footprint of a 150-turbine project saw turnouts of up to 57 percent - rare for a special election.
"What this vote does have to do with is a safe setback, a distance from a home that is occupied by people and an industrial wind turbine," Brouwer explains. ...the current half-mile setback will better protect people from the noise and health issues are associated with wind turbines.
As more wind energy projects are established in South Dakota, it’s important that developers and local officials work to identify and address community concerns around new projects. One piece to consider is crafting zoning standards that focus on citizens’ concerns while allowing for development of renewable wind energy.
Those who support stricter setbacks say the project isn’t right for such a populated area. “We make our homes and our lives here,” said Winnie Peterson, executive director of We-Care SD, which stands for Wind Energy Concerns About the Rural Environment. The group has pushed for larger setbacks and supports the commission’s new rules that are subject to the July vote.
The company behind a proposed wind farm has gathered enough signatures to challenge a new set of rules adopted by county commissioners earlier this year.
A coalition of farm and energy groups launched a campaign Tuesday asking voters to overturn restrictive wind turbine rules passed last month in Lincoln County. The ordinance requires turbines to be spaced at least a half mile from homes unless the energy company obtains a waiver from the neighboring landowner.
Pending a referral period that stretches throughout the first 20 days of June, updated wind tower ordinances within Deuel County are set to be adopted.
On Monday, after a short public hearing in front of a packed room, the five-man Commission voted to put a six-month moratorium on any wind-energy development until county officials can study and probably tweak the ordinances. They were written eight or nine years ago and things have changed, said Commission Chairman Norm Weaver.
The Hughes County Commission made the right decision on Monday when it put a six-month moratorium on wind-farm development.