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Model Zoning By-Law relating to the installation of Small Wind Energy Systems.

The implementation of consistent statewide standards to achieve the timely and cost-effective installation of small wind energy systems is a matter of statewide concern. It is the intent of the Legislature that this section apply to all local agencies, including, but not limited to, towns, cities and counties.

Editor's Note: This small wind zoning statute, drafted by Paul Gay (Westport, MA) is currently in joint committee in the MA state legislature. The author describes himself as a proponent of small wind with an interest in promoting regulations that are drafted in such a way as to insure a properly functioning system while protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public.

This Model Zoning By-Law is based in part on information and language found in zoning laws existing in Wisconsin, New York, California and Iowa.


Section 1

1.1 Intent

Wind energy is an abundant, renewable, and nonpolluting energy resource. When converted to electricity, it reduces our dependence on nonrenewable energy resources and reduces air and water pollution that result from conventional sources. Distributed small wind energy systems also enhance the reliability and power quality of the power grid, reduce peak power demands, increase in-state electricity generation, diversify the Commonwealth’s energy supply portfolio, and make the electricity supply market more competitive by promoting consumer choice.

Small wind energy systems, designed for onsite home, farm, and small commercial use are an excellent technology to help achieve the goals of increased in-state electricity generation, reduced demand on the state electric grid, increased consumer energy independence, and nonpolluting electricity generation.

The implementation of consistent statewide standards to achieve the timely and cost-effective installation of small wind energy systems is a matter of statewide concern. It is the intent of the Legislature that this section apply to all local agencies, including, but not limited to, towns, cities and counties.

It is the policy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to promote and encourage the use of small wind energy systems and to limit obstacles to their installation and use.

1.2 Definitions

Building Inspector: The inspector of buildings, building commissioner or local inspector or if there are none, in a town, the board of selectmen, or person or board designated by local ordinance or by-law charged with the enforcement of the zoning ordinance.

Meteorological tower (met tower): Includes the tower, base plate, anchors, guy cables and hardware, anemometers (wind speed indicators), wind direction vanes, booms to hold equipment anemometers and vanes, data logger, instrument wiring, and any telemetry devices that are used to monitor or transmit wind speed and wind flow characteristics over a period of time for either instantaneous wind information or to characterize the wind resource at a given location.

Small wind energy system: A wind energy conversion system consisting of a wind turbine, a tower, and associated control or conversion electronics, which has a rated capacity of 60 KW or less.

Tower: The monopole, freestanding, or guyed structure that supports a wind generator.

Tower height: The height above grade of the fixed portion of the tower, excluding the wind turbine.

Total Height: The vertical distance from ground level to the tip of the wind generator blade when it is at its highest point.

1.3 Standards

Small wind energy systems shall be a permitted use in all zoning districts subject to the following requirements:

(1) Setbacks. A wind tower for a small wind system shall be set back a distance equal to its Total Height from:
(a) any public road right of way, unless written permission is granted by the governmental entity with jurisdiction over the road;
(b) any overhead utility lines, unless written permission is granted by the affected utility
(c) all property lines, unless written permission is granted from the affected land owner or neighbor.

(2) Access.
(a) All ground mounted electrical and control equipment shall be labeled or secured to prevent unauthorized access.
(b) The tower shall be designed and installed so as to not provide step bolts or a ladder readily accessible to the public for a minimum height of 8 feet above the ground.

(3) Lighting. A wind tower and generator shall not be artificially lighted unless such lighting is required by the Federal Aviation Administration. A light temporarily used to inspect a turbine, tower and associated equipment is permissible, providing said light is only used for inspection purposes and not left on for an extended period of time.

(4) Decibel levels for the system shall not exceed the lesser of 60 decibels (Dba) as measured at the closest neighboring inhabited dwelling, except during short-term events such as utility outages and severe wind storms

(5) Signs. All signs, other than the manufacturer’s or installer’s identification, appropriate warning signs, or owner identification on a wind generator, tower, building, or other structure associated with a small wind energy system visible from any public road shall be prohibited.

(6) Code Compliance. A small wind energy system including tower shall comply with all applicable state construction and electrical codes, and the National Electrical Code.

(7) Height: There shall be no limitation on the tower height or total height of the system other than that imposed by sectiion 1.3(1).

(8) The system shall comply with all applicable Federal Aviation Administration requirements, including but not limited to Subpart B (commencing with Section 77.11) of Part 77 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations regarding installations in excess of 200 feet in height and, installations close to airports. The system shall also comply with any and all Massachusetts Aeronautics regulations.

(9) No part of the system, including guy wire anchors, may be closer than 5 feet from any property boundary,

(10) Temporary meteorological (Met) towers shall be permitted under the same standards as a small wind energy system, except that the requirements shall be the same as those for a temporary structure. A permit for a temporary met tower shall be valid for a maximum of 3 years after which an extension may be granted. Permanent Met towers may be permitted under the same standards as a small wind energy system.

1.4 Permit Requirements.

(1) Building Permit. A building permit shall be required for the installation of a small wind energy system.

(2) Documents: The building permit application shall be accompanied by a plot plan which includes the following:
(a) Property lines and physical dimensions of the subject property within 2 times the Total Height from the tower location.
(b) Location, dimensions, and types of existing major structures on the property
(c) Location of the proposed wind system tower, foundations, guy anchors and associated equipment.
(d) The right-of-way of any public road that is contiguous with the property;
(e) Any overhead utility lines;
(f) Wind system specifications, including manufacturer and model, rotor diameter, tower height, tower type (freestanding or guyed)
(g) Tower foundation blueprints or drawings signed by a Professional Engineer licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
(h) Tower blueprint or drawing signed by a Professional Engineer licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The plot plan must be signed by a Professional Land Surveyor licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The plan must be the result of an actual on the ground instrument survey and contain the following statement: “I (surveyor’s name) being a licensed Professional Land Surveyor licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts hereby certify that the information shown on this plan is the result of an on the ground instrument survey performed on (date) and this plan meets all of the applicable requirements of 250 CMR 6.”

(3) Fees. The application for a building permit for a small wind energy system must be accompanied by the fee required for a building permit for a Permitted Accessory Use.

(4) Expiration. A permit issued pursuant to this ordinance shall expire if:
(a) The small wind energy system is not installed and functioning within 24-months from the date the permit is issued; or,
(b) The small wind energy system is out of service or otherwise unused for a continuous 12-month period.

1.5 Abandonment.

(1) A small wind energy system that is out-of-service for a continuous 12-month period will be deemed to have been abandoned. The Building Inspector may issue a Notice of Abandonment to the owner of a small wind energy system that is deemed to have been abandoned. The Owner shall have the right to respond to the Notice of Abandonment within 30 days from Notice receipt date. The Building Inspector shall withdraw the Notice of Abandonment and notify the owner that the Notice has been withdrawn if the owner provides information that demonstrates the small wind energy system has not been abandoned.

(2) If the small wind energy system is determined to be abandoned, the owner of a small wind energy system shall remove the wind generator and the tower at the Owner’s sole expense within 3 months of receipt of Notice of Abandonment. If the owner fails to remove the wind generator from the tower, the Building Inspector may pursue a legal action to have the wind generator removed at the Owner’s expense.

1.6 Violations.

It is unlawful for any person to construct, install, or operate a small wind energy system that is not in compliance with this ordinance or with any condition contained in a building permit issued pursuant to this ordinance. Small wind energy systems installed prior to the adoption of this ordinance are exempt.

1.7 Administration and Enforcement.

(1) This ordinance shall be administered and enforced by the Building Inspector or other official as designated.

(2) The Building Inspector may enter any property for which a building permit has been issued under this ordinance to conduct an inspection to determine whether the conditions stated in the permit have been met.

1.8 Penalties.
(1) Any person who fails to comply with any provision of this ordinance or a building permit issued pursuant to this ordinance shall be subject to enforcement and penalties as allowed by applicable law.

1.9 Severability.

The provisions of this ordinance are severable, and the invalidity of any section, subdivision, paragraph, or other part of this ordinance shall not affect the validity or effectiveness of the remainder of the ordinance.

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State Model Zoning Law By Plg

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JAN 1 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/7113-model-zoning-by-law-relating-to-the-installation-of-small-wind-energy-systems
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