§ 157.138  WIND ENERGY CONVERSION SYSTEM.
   (A)   The purpose and intent of this section is to provide for the development of wind generated electricity in LaPorte County but to regulate siting requirements of such systems to provide for the general safety and well-being of LaPorte County residents.
   (B)   No individual, business, firm or other entities shall construct, operate or locate within the unincorporated area of LaPorte County a wind energy conversion system (WECS) without first having complied with the full provisions of this section.
   (C)   Structural requirements.
      (1)   Height. Any large WECS or meteorological tower greater than 200 feet tall shall require a special exception use permit and meet all requirements and height limitations imposed by the FAA rules and regulations.
      (2)   Horizontal extensions. The furthest horizontal extension of a WECS shall not extend into a required setback by the zoning district or be closer than 20 feet to any primary structure or ROW easement for any above ground telephone, electrical transmission, distribution or utilities both under and above ground.
   (D)   Setback requirements.
      (1)   Minimum setbacks for large wind energy conversion systems.
 
Distance from a...
Minimum Setback Distance
Property line measured from the center of the WECS to the property line.
1.1 times the total height (where the blade tip is at its highest point) for non-participating landowners.
Residential dwelling measured from the center of the WECS to the nearest corner of the structure.
1,000 feet for non-participating landowners. This is also reciprocal after establishment of a WECS.
Road ROW measured from the center of the WECS to the edge of the ROW.
1.1 times the total height (where the blade tip is at its highest point), provided that the distance is no less than 350 feet.
Other ROW, such as railroads and utility easements, measured from the center of the WECS to the edge of the ROW.
1.1 times the total height (where the blade tip is at its highest point), provided that the distance is no less than 350 feet.
Wetlands, defined by the Corps of Engineer, measured from the center of the WECS to the nearest point of the wetland in question.
Determined by a permit obtained from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Incorporated limits of a municipality, measured from the center of the WECS to city/town limits.
1/3 mile.
A platted and recorded subdivision of LaPorte County.
1/4 mile.
 
      (2)   Minimum setbacks for small energy conservation systems.
 
Distance from a...
Minimum Setback Distance
Property line measured from the center of the WECS to the property line.
1.1 times the total height (where the blade tip is at its highest point), provided that the distance is no less than the required yard setback prescribed for that zoning district.
Residential dwelling measured from the center of the WECS to the nearest corner of the structure.
1.1 times the total height (where the blade tip  is at its highest point).
Road ROW measured from the center of the WECS to the edge of the ROW.
1.1 times the total height (where the blade tip is at its highest point), provided that the distance is no less than the required yard setback prescribed for that zoning district.
Other ROW, such as railroads and utility easements, measured from the center of the WECS to the edge of the ROW.
1.1 times the total height (where the blade tip is at its highest point), provided that the distance is no less than the required yard setback prescribed for that zoning district.
Wetlands, defined by the Corps of Engineer, measured from the center of the WECS to the nearest point of the wetland in question.
As determined by a permit obtained from the Corps of Engineers.
Public conservation lands, measured from the center of the WECS to the nearest point of the public conservation land in question.
750 feet.
 
      (3)   Minimum setbacks for meteorological towers.
 
Distance from a...
Minimum Setback Distance
Property line measured from the center of the WECS to the property line of non-participating landowners.
1.1 times the total height, provided that the distance is no less than the required yard setback.
Residential dwelling measured from the center of the WECS to the nearest corner of the structure.
1.1 times the total height.
Road ROW measured from the center of the WECS to the edge of the ROW.
1.1 times the total height, provided that the distance is no less than the required yard setback.
Other ROW, such as railroads and utility easements, measured from the center of the WECS to the edge of the ROW.
1.1 times the total height, provided that the distance is no less than the required yard setback.
 
   (E)   Safety design and installation standards.
      (1)   Equipment type.
         (a)   Turbines. All turbines shall be constructed of new commercially available equipment.
         (b)   Towers. All towers shall be guyed unless they are designed for temporary purposes like data collection and will be removed through the owner’s expense in a timely manner.
         (c)   Used equipment or proto-type equipment. Used, experimental or proto-type equipment still in testing may be approved by the BZA per the variance process.
         (d)   All towers shall not be guyed unless they are designed for temporary purposes.
      (2)   Industry standards and other regulations. All WECS shall conform to applicable industry standards as well as all local, state and federal regulations. An applicant shall submit certificates of design compliance that wind turbine manufacturers have obtained from Underwriter’s Laboratories, DET norske Veritas, Germanischer Lloyed Wind Energie or an equivalent third party.
      (3)   Controls and brakes.
         (a)   Braking systems. All WECS shall be equipped with a redundant braking system. This includes both aerodynamic over speed controls (including variable pitch, tip, and other similar systems) and mechanical brakes. Stall regulations shall not be considered a sufficient braking system for over speed protection.
         (b)   Operation mode. All mechanical brakes shall be operated in a fail safe mode.
      (4)   Electrical components.
         (a)   All electrical components of the WECS shall conform to applicable local, state and national codes and relevant national and international standards.
         (b)   Electrical collection cables. All WECS electrical collection cables between each WECS shall be located underground unless they are located on public or utility rights-of-way or with prior county approval. All transmission lines that are buried should be at a depth consistent with or greater than local utility and telecommunication underground lines standards or as negotiated with the landowner or the landowner’s designate until the same reach the property line or a substation adjacent to the property line.
      (5)   Color.
         (a)   Towers and blades shall be painted white or gray or another non-reflective, unobtrusive color.
         (b)   The applicant for WECS shall comply with all applicable FAA requirements.
      (6)   Warnings.
         (a)   A reasonably visible warning sign concerning voltage must be placed at the base of all pad-mounted transformers and substations.
         (b)   Visible, reflective, colored objects, such as flags, reflectors or tape shall be placed on the anchor points of guy wires and along the guy wires up to a height of not less than 15 feet from the ground.
      (7)   Climb prevention. All WECS tower designs must include features to deter climbing from the base of a lattice-based WECS tower or be protected by anti-climbing devices such as:
         (a)   Fences with  locking portals at least six feet high; or
         (b)   Anti-climbing devices 15 feet vertically from the base of the WECS tower.
         (c)   Locked WECS tower doors.
      (8)   Blade clearance. The minimum distance between the ground and any protruding blade(s) utilized on a WECS shall be 15 feet as measured at the lowest point of the arc of the blades. The minimum distance shall be increased as necessary to provide for vehicle clearance in locations where over-sized vehicles might travel.
      (9)   Noise and vibration.
         (a)   Noise and vibration levels shall be in compliance with all county, state and federal regulations.
         (b)   At no point within 200 feet of a primary residence may the sound pressure levels from a wind turbine exceed the following sound levels. Sound levels shall be measured with an octave band analyzer or sound level meter and associated filer manufactured in compliance with standards prescribed by the National Standards Institute (ANSI).
 
Octave Bands for LaPorte County in Hertz (HZ)
Maximum Permitted Sound Level (Decibels) Measured 200 Feet from Edge of Any Primary  Structure
63
75
125
70
250
65
500
59
1000
53
2000
48
4000
44
8000
41
      (10)   Utility interconnection. The WECS, if interconnected to a utility system, shall meet the requirements for interconnection and operate as set forth in the electrical utility’s then-current service regulations applicable to WECS.
      (11)   Waste management. All solid waste whether generated from supplies, equipment, parts, packaging or operation or maintenance of the facility, including old parts and equipment, shall be removed from the site in a timely manner consistent with industry standards. All hazardous waste generated by the operation and maintenance of the facility, including but not limited to lubricating materials, shall be handles in a manner consistent with all local, state and federal rules and regulations.
      (12)   Lighting.
         (a)   Except with respect to lighting required by the FAA, all lighting shall be shielded so that no glare extends substantially beyond the boundaries of the wind farm facilities.
         (b)   Any WECS thereof declared to be unsafe by the LaPorte County Building Commissioner by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence, fire hazard, disaster, damage or abandonment is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and shall be abated by repair, rehabilitation, demolition or removal in accordance with the procedures set forth in the county ordinances governing the removal of nuisances.
   (13)   Compliance with additional regulations. Nothing in this section is intended to preempt other applicable state and federal laws and regulations.
   (F)   Operation and maintenance.
      (1)   Physical modifications. In general, any physical modifications to any WECS that alters the mechanical load, mechanical load path or major electrical components shall require recertification. Like-kind replacements shall not require recertification. Therefore, prior to making any physical modification, the owner or operator shall confer with the Building Department and/or Plan Commission to determine whether the physical modification requires recertification.
      (2)   Interference.
         (a)   Pre-construction. The applicant shall complete a communications study prior to construction so as to minimize interference with any public or public serving utility transmissions.
         (b)   Post-construction. If, after construction of the WECS, the owner or operator receives a written complaint related to interference with local broadcast residential television, telecommunication, public communication or microwave transmissions, the owner or operator shall take reasonable steps to respond to remedy the interference within 90 days.
         (c)   Failure to remedy. After 90 days if the interference is not remedied, appropriate action will be taken which can result in the inactivity of the WECS. However, this doesn’t apply to interference with private telecommunications systems.
   (G)   Decommissioning plan. Prior to receiving siting approval under this section, the county and the applicant, owner or operator must formulate a decommissioning plan to ensure that the WECS project is properly decommissioned. The decommissioning plan shall include;
      (1)   Assurance that the facilities are properly decommissioned upon the end of the project life or facility abandonment. Applicant’s obligations with respect to decommissioning shall include removal of all physical material pertaining to the project improvements to a depth of 48 inches beneath the soil surface and restoration of the area occupied by the project improvement to as near as practicable to the same condition that existed immediately before construction of such improvements. Prior to issuance of a building permit, the applicant shall provide a contractor cost estimate for demolition and removal of the WECS facility and will provide financial assurance in an amount at least equal to the demolition and removal contractor cost estimate, through the use of a bond, letter of credit or other security acceptable to the county updated every five years for the cost of decommissioning each tower to be constructed under that building permit, which security shall be released when such tower is properly decommissioned as determined by the LaPorte County Building Commissioner. In the event of abandonment by the owner or operator, the applicant will provide an affidavit to the LaPorte County Building Commissioner representing that all easements for wind turbines shall contain terms that provide financial assurance, including access to the salvage value of the equipment, for the property owners to ensure that facilities are properly decommissioned within 12 months of expiration or earlier termination of the project.
      (2)   The applicant, owner or operator’s failure to materially comply with any of the above provisions shall constitute a default under this section.
      (3)   Prior to implementation of the existing county procedures for the resolution of such default (s), the appropriate county body shall first provide written notice to the owner and operator, setting forth the alleged default (s). Such written notice shall provide the owner and operator a reasonable time period, not to exceed 60 days, for good faith negotiations to resolve the alleged default(s).
      (4)   If the county determines in its discretion that the parties cannot resolve the alleged default(s) within the good faith negotiation period, the existing county ordinance provisions addressing the resolution of such default(s) shall govern.
      (5)   The decommissioning plan will be updated every five years through the use of a bond, letter of credit or other security acceptable to the county.
   (H)   Application procedures.
      (1)   Conditional use permit for all WECS. The application shall include the following items which may be supplemental to the County Plan Commission variance/special exception application:
         (a)   Project description.
            1.   The name(s), address(es) and phone number(s) of the applicants), owner and operator and all property owner(s) with WECS on their properties, if known.
            2.   A WECS project summary, including to the extent available, a general description of the project, including its approximate name plate generating capacity; the potential equipment manufacturers), type(s) of WECS(s), number of WECS(s) and name plate generating capacity of each WECS.
            3.   The maximum height of the WECS tower(s) and maximum diameter of the WECS (s) rotor(s).
            4.   A legal description, address and general location of the project.
         (b)   Topographic map. Depicting the project site and the surrounding area which shall encompass an area at least a quarter mile radius from the proposed project site with contours of not more than five-foot intervals.
         (c)   Creation of a site plan. This shall include distances and drawn to scale and certified by a registered land surveyor, at an appropriate scale including distances and drawn showing:
            1.   The proposed location of the wind energy facility, including planned locations of each WECS tower, guy lines and anchor bases (if any);
            2.   WECS access roads; substations; electrical cabling and ancillary equipment;
            3.   Primary structures within one quarter mile of any WECS;
            4.   Property lines, including identification of adjoining properties; setback lines; public roads; location of all above-ground utility lines within a distance of two times the WECS tower height of any WECS tower;
            5.   Recognized historic or heritage sites as noted by the Division of Historic Preservation and Archeology of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources;
            6.   Any wetlands based upon delineation prepared in accordance with the applicable U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requirements and guidelines.
         (d)   Correspondence with wildlife agencies. For the purposes of preventing harm to migratory birds, the applicant shall provide written documentation that he or she is in direct cooperation and in accordance with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and IDEM.
      (2)   Application for an improvement location permit.
         (a)   Application requirements. After approval of the project through the special exception/variance process, the applicant shall apply to the Building Commissioner for an improvement location permit after approval from the BZA. In addition to the information required on the improvement location permit application, the applicant shall provide the following information to the Building Commissioner prior to the issuance of an improvement location permit.
            1.   Dimensional representation of the structural components of the tower construction including the base and footings.
            2.   Schematic of electrical systems associated with the WECS including all existing and proposed electrical connections.
            3.   Manufacturer’s specifications and installation and operation instructions or specific WECS design information.
            4.   An engineer or qualified registered professional engineer shall certify as part of the building permit application that the turbine, foundation and tower design of the WECS is within accepted professional standards, given local soil and climate conditions. An engineering analysis of the tower showing compliance with the applicable regulations and certified by a licensed professional engineer shall also be submitted. The analysis shall be accompanied by standard drawings of the wind turbine structure, including the tower, base and footings.
            5.   All turbines shall be new equipment commercially available. Used, experimental or proto-type equipment still in testing shall be approved by the BZA as per the normal special exception process.
            6.   Necessary recorded access easements and necessary recorded utility easements, copies of which shall be submitted to the LaPorte County Building Commissioner.
            7.   No appurtenances other than those associated with the wind turbine operations shall be connected to any wind tower except with express, written permission by the BZA.
            8.   A transportation plan showing how vehicles would access the site and describing the impacts of the proposed energy project on the local and regional road system during construction and operation.
            9.   A vegetation plan for restoring areas temporarily disturbed during construction.
            10.   A fire protection plan for construction and operation of the facility.
            11.   Any other item reasonably requested by the BZA.
            12.   A drainage plan for construction and operation must be developed and approved by the LaPorte County Drainage Board.
            13.   An erosion control plan must be developed in consultation with the LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District.
(Ord. 2008-16, passed 8-5-08)