Wind Turbine Outline
October 7, 2009 Proposal
Small Wind Turbine - A wind energy conversion system used for the generation of power to support an allowed activity on the property. This includes all components of the system such as the tower, guy wires, wiring, rotors and turbine blades, generators, and control systems. The small wind turbine may be connected to a public utility and sell power to that utility provided the power sold is not in excess of that typically used for the primary use on that property.
This definition effectively restricts small wind turbines to an accessory use of the property. For those turbines that are an accessory to a single family residence or agricultural use, no site plan is required per 18-32.2 of the Zoning Ordinance. For other uses (e.g. power for a commercial greenhouse), there would still be a site plan requirement to satisfy before a building permit for the small wind turbine could be issued.
A small wind turbine located on property within any zoning district except within a County recognized Historic District or within the Mountain Contour List as defined in the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
A Tier I system would be considered a “by right” use, subject to the conditions in the Supplementary Regulations of the Zoning Ordinance but administratively handled with minimal cost to applicants. These facilities are anticipated to result in very little or no impact to the community and would have minimal costs associated with County requirements.
A small wind turbine that does not qualify as a Tier I, requiring the Planning Commission to waive Supplemental Conditions for the use. This would include situations such as a system within a County recognized Historic District, reduced setbacks, or height above that allowed for buildings in that zoning district.
This would require the Planning Commission waiving a condition of the Supplemental Regulations. The administrative cost for such a system would be considerably higher than a Tier I.
Supplemental Regulations for Small Wind Turbines
Within Section 5 of the Zoning Ordinance (Supplementary Regulations), establish conditions for wind turbines. As a Supplementary Regulation, the Planning Commission may waive or modify these conditions, for a Tier II facility. This provides the simplest oversight for situations where project specific conditions may require special consideration. The following are the recommended conditions:
1. Small wind turbines are an allowed use within any zoning district, except within County recognized Historic District or the Mountain Overlay District.
This makes wind turbines a “by right” use within any zoning district and allows the Planning Commission to decide if the use is appropriately sited in the overlay district where the potential for conflict is higher.
2. Require a minimum setback from property lines of the height of the structure, plus twenty feet. It is recommended this include a provision for an administrative waiver where the applicant has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Agent and County Atoorney that the adjoining property owner has agreed to restrict development within that part of their property that would be within this setback distance.
This allows a margin of safety for structure collapse and ice throws from turbines.
3. Prohibit collocation of personal wireless service antenna.
This avoids situations where wind turbines might be constructed to circumvent wireless facility ordinance requirements rather than being primarily intended for generation of wind energy.
4. Prohibit all lighting of the wind turbine and tower.
This restriction recognizes the dark skies provisions in the Comprehensive Plan.
5. Prohibit wind turbines within the Entrance within the Mountain Contour List as defined by the Comprehensive Plan . This assures oversight by the Planning Commission for visual impacts within the Entrance Corridors and mountains. Within the EC, the Planning Commission may also request input from the Architectural Review Board before considering a request.
Under the Supplemental Conditions for small wind turbines, add a provision for small wind turbines to meet the height limits within the underlying zoning district. Thus, the Planning Commission could modify this requirement.
Unlike previous proposals, this eliminates the need for a Special Use Permit, which greatly reduces the administrative burden for the County and the cost to the applicant while still assuring there is a process where exceptions are vetted in public.
A building permit is required prior to the County permitting construction of a small wind turbine. A site plan may be required before a building permit application is submitted per 18-32.2 of the Zoning Ordinance for those uses that are not exempted from the site plan requirements. . The following information must be provided with the building permit application.
1. A plat of the property that clearly shows the boundary lines, location of the proposed small wind turbine, and setbacks to the property line.
2. Plans that clearly show the total height of the proposed structure and satisfy all provisions of the Building Code.
3. A signed and notarized affidavit using a County form that demonstrates the small wind turbine will be used to support an allowed use of the property and assures the small wind turbine shall be removed if the supported use is ended.
Tier I -
A Tier I small wind turbine is a “by right” use and will typically only require a building permit.
Recognizing administrative costs can be a significant deterrent to use of small wind turbines, this provision attempts to keep that cost to a minimum.
Tier II -
A Tier II small wind turbine shall require Planning Commission approval of a waiver or modification of the conditions in the Supplemental Regulations prior to approval of a building permit or site plan. As part of approving a waiver or modification, the Planning Commission may establish reasonable conditions to assure the ordinance intent is maintained. If the commission denies an application, it shall identify which requirements were not satisfied and inform the applicant what needs to be done to satisfy each requirement.
Recognizing site specific considerations may suggest a small wind turbine should be allowed, the Planning Commission can waive or modify the requirements as related to setbacks, zoning districts and overlay districts, collocation of antenna, lighting, and height. Depending on the submission requirements, the cost of this application may be a significant deterrent to applicants constructing small wind turbines.
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