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Wind law gets OK

It's taken nine months of public hearings, multiple drafts and countless e-mails of information, but Carteret County finally has an ordinance regulating wind turbines and communication towers. ...The ordinance allows utility-scale turbines up to 550 feet tall and requires a setback of 6 feet for each foot of height - a maximum setback of 3,300 feet. The ordinance also addresses noise from turbines and shadow flicker and has separate standards for turbines under 200 feet tall and for private residential turbines.

It's taken nine months of public hearings, multiple drafts and countless e-mails of information, but Carteret County finally has an ordinance regulating wind turbines and communication towers.

And though there were some concerns about regulating commerce, requiring bonds and potentially having utility-scale turbines Down East, the County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Monday night the ordinance that everyone agreed needed to be passed.

"There are some parts of this ordinance that I don't necessarily agree with ... I think overall, I have to weigh that against the safety of our citizens," Commissioner Wade Nelms said at the regular meeting in the boardroom of the administration building.

"It's encouraging to think of this as a working document that we can come back to and work on again."

Commissioner Greg Lewis made the motion to approve the ordinance and Commissioner Pete Allen gave the second.

The ordinance was approved weeks before the Dec. 3 expiration of a nine-month moratorium on the permitting of tall structures.

The moratorium was enacted to allow the county time to develop regulations for wind turbines and other tall structures... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

It's taken nine months of public hearings, multiple drafts and countless e-mails of information, but Carteret County finally has an ordinance regulating wind turbines and communication towers.

And though there were some concerns about regulating commerce, requiring bonds and potentially having utility-scale turbines Down East, the County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Monday night the ordinance that everyone agreed needed to be passed.

"There are some parts of this ordinance that I don't necessarily agree with ... I think overall, I have to weigh that against the safety of our citizens," Commissioner Wade Nelms said at the regular meeting in the boardroom of the administration building.

"It's encouraging to think of this as a working document that we can come back to and work on again."

Commissioner Greg Lewis made the motion to approve the ordinance and Commissioner Pete Allen gave the second.

The ordinance was approved weeks before the Dec. 3 expiration of a nine-month moratorium on the permitting of tall structures.

The moratorium was enacted to allow the county time to develop regulations for wind turbines and other tall structures and was sparked by a proposed wind farm for the Down East community of Bettie.

That project, known as Golden Wind Farm, proposed three, 1.5-megawatt turbines at more than 300 feet tall for a 30-acre site near Golden Farm Road and raised much concern from area residents who felt the rural but residential area was not the appropriate place for such turbines.

The developer and property owner, Nelson Paul of Raleigh, received the OK from the N.C. Utilities Commission to provide power to the public just after the moratorium was put in place, and no formal plans for the utility-scale project were submitted to the county.

According to maps created by the County Planning Department, the new ordinance effectively eliminates the possibility for a utility-scale wind turbine to be located in the area proposed by Mr. Paul - but it does not eliminate utility-scale turbines altogether.

The ordinance allows utility-scale turbines up to 550 feet tall and requires a setback of 6 feet for each foot of height - a maximum setback of 3,300 feet. The ordinance also addresses noise from turbines and shadow flicker and has separate standards for turbines under 200 feet tall and for private residential turbines.

Although he supported the ordinance, Commissioner Tom Steepy said he would have rather had separate ordinances for utility-scale and smaller turbines.

"When I go Down East I see one significant structure there - that's the lighthouse," he said. "The lighthouse stands 150 feet to 160 feet tall. When we're talking utility-scale size windmills, we're talking about something three-and-half or four times taller than the lighthouse. That's a significant contribution to the landscape, so to speak."

He said the amount of concrete needed to support utility-scale turbines also concerned him, especially when placed in sandy soil Down East and where the water table is high.

But most of the commissioners' concerns focused on the communication tower portion of the ordinance. Commissioner Holt Faircloth said he didn't think a tower owner should have to put up a surety bond to cover the cost of tearing down the tower, should the need arise.

"If (the tower's) condemned, it's on someone's property, so we have a property owner to go after to take the tower down," he said.

But Chairman Doug Harris said he could think of a piece of property Down East with a collapsed building and environmental hazards that no one, not even the property owner, wants.

"It would be nice to have something set to say that structure has to be removed," he said.

Commissioner Faircloth made a motion to remove the bond requirement from the tower portion of the ordinance, but it failed 3-4 with commissioners Jonathan Robinson, Harris, Steepy and Allen voting against.

Commissioner Faircloth also said he felt it was wrong to allow only "90 consecutive days or a total of 180 days in any 365-day period" of non-use for a tower owner to find a tenant before having to remove the tower.

Other commissioners agreed and the rule was unanimously changed to require a tower be removed after 365 days of abandonment or not being used.

Commissioner Nelms also had concerns that the tower section seemed to regulate commerce by requiring that the location of new towers or tower services be determined according to a priorities list in the ordinance - and that two of the top three priorities were county-owned property or facilities.

"We're trying to force people to do business with the county and I have a problem with that," Commissioner Nelms said.

County Attorney Rob Wheatly said there were other priorities available and that the county didn't always charge for use of its tower facilities, like with the state Highway Patrol. But if someone needed a tower to provide services but didn't like the county and had no other options, they would "be in trouble," or out of luck, he said.

While he supported the ordinance, Commissioner Nelms said he would have rather seen wind turbines and communication towers handled in separate ordinances.


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

NOV 19 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17975-wind-law-gets-ok
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