Article

Plan takes some flak

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 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.

A nine-month moratorium was passed by county commissioners in March after plans for a wind farm on 33 acres in the Down East community of Bettie, known as Golden Wind Farm, went before the state Utilities Commission and sparked much debate across the county regarding Carteret's lack of regulations for such structures.

That project, headed by property owner Nelson Paul of Raleigh, would consist of three 1.5-megawatt turbines, each standing about 330 feet tall with the highest reach of the rotating blades. Mr. Paul's project was essentially put on hold for the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

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.

A nine-month moratorium was passed by county commissioners in March after plans for a wind farm on 33 acres in the Down East community of Bettie, known as Golden Wind Farm, went before the state Utilities Commission and sparked much debate across the county regarding Carteret's lack of regulations for such structures.

That project, headed by property owner Nelson Paul of Raleigh, would consist of three 1.5-megawatt turbines, each standing about 330 feet tall with the highest reach of the rotating blades. Mr. Paul's project was essentially put on hold for the duration of the moratorium.

"I am seriously concerned the Carteret County planning staff/planning board has not yet developed a sufficient understanding of the issues facing commercial wind development in Carteret County to propose a viable ordinance on this matter," Mr. Paul said in an e-mail Tuesday to county officials and media outlets.

One of the most recent changes to the draft ordinance includes increasing the setbacks for utility wind turbines of 1,000 kilowatts or more between 200 and 550 feet tall to six times each foot of height, which would make the maximum setback 3,300 feet.

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.

But the map gave no consideration to land uses, Mr. Paul said.

"In regards to the 3,300-foot-setback maps, obviously no consideration was given to wetlands, restricted military airspace, available wind resource or any other constraints a prospective applicant would face in permitting a commercial wind development project," he said in his e-mail.

"There are significant constraints with the properties identified on these maps," he continued. "For example, I don't think the military would view the establishment of wind turbines at the BT-11 bombing range as being a compatible use. Additionally, I don't think the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would kindly allow wind turbines to be placed in the Cedar Island marshes."

He said by not taking such things into consideration, it seems the ordinance is "being developed outside of any land use and/or regulatory context." Furthermore, Mr. Nelson said without all the pertinent information, "these maps are evidence the planning staff does not yet have the necessary knowledge base to put forth a workable ordinance on this subject."

"Failure to understand and consider these obvious use conflicts and regulatory constraints will surely end up in a disappointing outcome," Mr. Paul said.

"It is my estimation that, in the end, this ordinance will effectively turn out to be a very complicated and elaborate ban on commercial wind development in Carteret County."

But any maps prepared by the county planning staff were simply to show the impact of the proposed setbacks, according to County Planning Director Katrina Marshall.

"The planning commission had previously asked staff to prepare a map illustrating the effects of the 1,300-foot setback," she said Tuesday.

"Staff revised it to illustrate sites that could meet the increased setback of six times the height of the wind turbine. The map illustrates parcels capable of supporting a 3,300-foot setback from property lines."

Because the map is based on the maximum turbine height of 550 feet and a setback of six times that - 550 multiplied by six equals 3,300 - there may be additional properties that meet the proposed setback requirements for turbines less than 550 feet tall, she said.

Other recent changes to the wind turbine section of the draft tall structures ordinance include:

• Clarified protections for surrounding property owners when another owner waives setbacks on his or her property.

• Adding a state review authority for health considerations in the environmental issues study.

• Strengthening the protections to groundwater resources.

• Ensuring that construction can withstand a Category 3 hurricane.

• Requiring an annual maintenance plan.

• Revising the minimum separation between wind turbines within a wind farm.

• Adding soil erosion and dirt control requirements.

• Increasing the amounts required for insurances and decommissioning costs.

As has been the case in all planning commission meetings regarding the tall structures ordinance, Chairman Harry Archer said he will again allow time for public comment.

"I've always encouraged and solicited public and citizen participation," he said Tuesday. "In developing the tall structures ordinance - which ... has been seven months of due diligence - public comments and correspondence at our public information meetings have been an integral part of our strategic planning."

Consideration of the draft tall structures ordinance is the only item on the planning commission's agenda.

The view a PDF file of the complete draft ordinance and its most recent changes, visit the County Planning Department Web site at www.carteretcountygov.org/departments/planningandinspection.htm.


Source: http://www.carteretnewstime...

SEP 18 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17146-plan-takes-some-flak
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