(A)   Applicability.  In order to properly integrate all regulating provisions affecting small wind energy systems, as defined in § 158.002, and to regulate such systems in an orderly and comprehensive manner, it is hereby provided that small wind energy systems are subject to the regulations as set forth herein. The purpose of this subchapter is to oversee the permitting of small wind energy systems, and to preserve and protect public health and safety without significantly increasing the cost or decreasing the efficiency of a small wind energy system. These provisions shall apply to all small wind energy systems located in the county.
   (B)   Standards.  A small wind energy system shall be an accessory use in all zoning districts subject to the following requirements:
      (1)   Setbacks.  A wind tower for a small wind energy system shall be set back a distance equal to its total height plus an additional 20 feet from:
         (a)   Any state or county right-of-way or the nearest edge of a state or county roadway, whichever is closer;
         (b)   Any right of ingress or egress on the owner’s property;
         (c)   Any overhead utility lines;
         (d)   All property lines; and
         (e)   Any existing guy wire, anchor, or small wind energy tower on the property.
      (2)   Access.
         (a)   All ground-mounted electrical and control equipment shall be labeled and secured to prevent unauthorized access; and
         (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 eight feet above the ground.
      (3)   Electrical wires.  All electrical wires associated with a small wind energy system, other than wires necessary to connect the wind generator to the wind tower wiring, the wind tower wiring to the disconnect junction box, and the grounding wires shall be located underground.
      (4)   Lighting.  A wind tower and generator shall not be artificially lighted unless such lighting is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Lighting of other parts of the small wind energy systems, such as appurtenant structures, shall be limited to that required for safety purposes, and shall be reasonably shielded from abutting properties.
      (5)   Appearance, color, and finish.  The wind generator and wind tower shall remain painted or finished the color or finish that was originally applied by the manufacturer.
      (6)   Signs.  All signs, other than the manufacturer’s or installer’s identification, appropriate warning signs, or owner identification on a wind generator, wind tower, building, or other structure associated with a small wind energy system visible from any public road shall be prohibited.
      (7)   Code compliance.  A small wind energy system including wind tower shall comply with all applicable construction and electrical codes.
      (8)   Utility notification and interconnection.  Small wind energy systems that connect to the electric utility shall comply with the Public Service Commission (“PSC”) regulations.
      (9)   Attachment to building.  Small wind energy systems may be attached to any building, including guy wires, provided the county approves the submittal of documentation sealed by an engineer licensed by the state showing the proposed connection of the system to the structure and whether any additional reinforcing is required. The county may not be found liable for damage caused by noise or vibration created by the system.
      (10)   Met towers.  Met towers shall be permitted under the same standards, permit requirements, restoration requirements, and permit procedures as a small wind energy system.
      (11)   Quantity.  Each property is eligible for two small wind energy systems only, except properties of at least 50 contiguous acres may be allowed one additional system for an accessory structure only. An accessory structure does not include a detached accessory dwelling on the property.
   (C)   Abandonment.
      (1)   A small wind energy system that is out-of-service for a continuous six month period will be deemed to have been abandoned. The Zoning Administrator 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 in writing to the notice of abandonment setting forth the reasons for operational difficulty and providing a reasonable timetable for corrective action, within 30 days from the date of the notice. The Zoning Administrator shall withdraw the notice of abandonment and notify the owner that the notice has been withdrawn if the owner provides information that demonstrates the 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 from the wind tower at the owner’s sole expense within three months of the date of notice of abandonment. If the owner fails to remove the wind generator from the wind tower, the Zoning Administrator may pursue a legal action to have the wind generator removed at the owner’s expense.
   (D)   Public Service Commission.  In accordance with the Md. Code, Public Utilities Companies Article, § 7-207.1, any property owner seeking to construct a small wind energy system and connect such system to the main power grid with the capability of transporting energy back to their main power company shall apply to the PSC for approval and provide documentation of such approval to the county prior to construction and being issued a building permit.
   (E)   Variances.  Variances to the distances, restrictions, and standards contained in this subchapter are not permitted.
   (F)   Noise.  All small wind energy systems shall comply with the limitations contained in the County Code, Chapter 93, Noise.
   (G)   Violations.  It is unlawful for any person to construct, install, or operate a small wind energy system that is not in compliance with this chapter or with any condition contained in a building permit issued pursuant to this chapter.
(Ord. 2019-06, passed 12-12-2019)  Penalty, see § 158.999