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Wind farm rules studied; Better impact protections sought

When it comes to the future impact of large wind systems, Marshall County planners are considering plenty. Ordinance amendments regulating wind farms in the county were sent back to the planning commission for more revisions after Dennis Thornton requested local control of tower height restrictions surrounding properly-approved private airstrips.

PLYMOUTH - When it comes to the future impact of large wind systems, Marshall County planners are considering plenty.

Ordinance amendments regulating wind farms in the county were sent back to the planning commission for more revisions after Dennis Thornton requested local control of tower height restrictions surrounding properly-approved private airstrips.

The ordinance amendment had said the FAA regulated air space for private airstrips, which is not necessarily the case, Thornton said during a Marshall County Commissioners public hearing considering the amendments.

"Local control is where it all starts," Thornton said. "Unambiguous language will give protection."

Thornton was planning commission president when the Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) ordinance was first established. However, he said back then large wind farms weren't a factor and small wind turbines weren't a problem.

EOSOL Energy, a Spanish company, is now exploring possibilities of wind farms in Marshall County and other Indiana sites.

Horizon Wind Energy already broke ground in White County to eventually build more than 500 turbines.

Using White County's ordinance as a model, Marshall County's ordinance has... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

PLYMOUTH - When it comes to the future impact of large wind systems, Marshall County planners are considering plenty.

Ordinance amendments regulating wind farms in the county were sent back to the planning commission for more revisions after Dennis Thornton requested local control of tower height restrictions surrounding properly-approved private airstrips.

The ordinance amendment had said the FAA regulated air space for private airstrips, which is not necessarily the case, Thornton said during a Marshall County Commissioners public hearing considering the amendments.

"Local control is where it all starts," Thornton said. "Unambiguous language will give protection."

Thornton was planning commission president when the Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) ordinance was first established. However, he said back then large wind farms weren't a factor and small wind turbines weren't a problem.

EOSOL Energy, a Spanish company, is now exploring possibilities of wind farms in Marshall County and other Indiana sites.

Horizon Wind Energy already broke ground in White County to eventually build more than 500 turbines.

Using White County's ordinance as a model, Marshall County's ordinance has been redesigned to avoid potential environmental damage and cost to the county for abandoned turbines, while better facilitating commercial wind farms.

Another revision Thornton was concerned about was the minimum separation distance of no less than 1.1 times the total height of the wind tower between property lines and utilities.

Thornton suggested the separation distance be measured from the top of the blades for better protection.

"Some blades are 100 feet long and some do fail," Thornton said. "A blade can fly all over the place and tear things up."

However, Thornton wondered if a 1,000-foot setback from any off-site dwelling unit was too restrictive on property rights.

County council member Judy Stone also addressed commissioners during the public hearing to lend support to Thornton's concerns.

"The height of the blade should be included and there should be concerns for using neighbor's property for own personal gain," Stone said. "A thousand feet could encroach on neighbors property and take away land rights."

While commissioner Jack Roose was concerned about residential areas, he also didn't want to restrict the county out of the economic possibilities wind farm businesses bring.

Planning director Ralph Booker said revisions would be taken back to the planning commission before becoming law, but also questioned whether too many restrictions would deem the area not suitable.

Commission president Kevin Overmyer said it may be a lot of control, but property owners have rights and those rights have been impeded on too much already.

Overmyer expressed concerns over wind turbine decibel restrictions of no more than 55 dbs.

"This is our first decibel ordinance in the county," he said. "What about the speedway or tractor combines? They're over 55 decibels."

Booker said those noises were only temporary and no wind farms today approach that decibel level.

While visiting the wind farm in White County, Booker said he had to consciously listen for noise.

"Standing at the base, all I heard was wind," said Roose. "The propellers make little noise."


Source: http://www.southbendtribune...

MAY 19 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/26369-wind-farm-rules-studied-better-impact-protections-sought
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