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Planning commission debating wind energy

The rolling ridges of the countryside aren't the only pieces of Northwest Missouri real estate ripe for wind power development. With its hills and tall buildings, St. Joseph holds potential for residents or businesses interested in generating their own electricity. The problem: The city does not have a set of rules available to grant a permit for or regulate where wind turbines may go. Not yet, at least.

The rolling ridges of the countryside aren't the only pieces of Northwest Missouri real estate ripe for wind power development.

With its hills and tall buildings, St. Joseph holds potential for residents or businesses interested in generating their own electricity.

The problem: The city does not have a set of rules available to grant a permit for or regulate where wind turbines may go. Not yet, at least.

The city planning commission will hold its second public hearing at 7 p.m. this evening in the council chambers at City Hall to discuss two ordinances that would regulate wind turbines within the city limits.

"We want something that is ahead of its time so we don't have to go back and change it," City Planner Mike Kellam said.

The ordinance would set a maximum height of 75 feet for wind turbines, or 30 feet above the tallest height permitted within the respective zoning district, whichever is lower.

Another rule would set a "2-to-1 ratio" for property line setbacks adjacent to residential areas, so a 50-foot tower must sit at least 100 feet from any place of residence. When placed next to nonresidential areas, the setback must be at least the height of the tower.

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The rolling ridges of the countryside aren't the only pieces of Northwest Missouri real estate ripe for wind power development.

With its hills and tall buildings, St. Joseph holds potential for residents or businesses interested in generating their own electricity.

The problem: The city does not have a set of rules available to grant a permit for or regulate where wind turbines may go. Not yet, at least.

The city planning commission will hold its second public hearing at 7 p.m. this evening in the council chambers at City Hall to discuss two ordinances that would regulate wind turbines within the city limits.

"We want something that is ahead of its time so we don't have to go back and change it," City Planner Mike Kellam said.

The ordinance would set a maximum height of 75 feet for wind turbines, or 30 feet above the tallest height permitted within the respective zoning district, whichever is lower.

Another rule would set a "2-to-1 ratio" for property line setbacks adjacent to residential areas, so a 50-foot tower must sit at least 100 feet from any place of residence. When placed next to nonresidential areas, the setback must be at least the height of the tower.

"The most important part for us is to ensure the safety of neighboring property owners, as well as the safety of those who may install a wind turbine," Mr. Kellam said. "It's really a proactive document to regulate something that we currently don't have any rules for."

The ordinance would set additional rules for small, private wind farms that businesses with plenty of available land could install on their property.

Mr. Kellam said no companies had expressed interest in installing their own wind power, but enough individuals had contacted the city that it decided to craft a set of rules.

When the city began its pursuit of a wind power ordinance earlier this year, employees believed St. Joseph could have been the first city in the state to pass such a law. Blue Springs, Mo., took St. Joseph's potential notoriety away when it passed a similar wind turbine ordinance in August, though the city does not mind.

"Blue Springs kind of beat us to the punch, but that might be a good thing for us," Mr. Kellam said. "They get to be the guinea pig."

Pending planning commission approval, the ordinance should come before the council in November and, if passed, could be in place by the end of the year.


Source: http://stjoenews.net/news/2...

OCT 22 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/22795-planning-commission-debating-wind-energy
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