(1) To oversee the permitting of wind energy systems (WES) for the purpose of protecting and providing for the public health, safety, and general welfare of the county; to allow for the orderly development of land; and to preserve and protect aesthetic conditions within the county. This section does not repeal, abrogate, annul, impair, or interfere with any existing ordinance.
(2) Ornamental wind devices that are not a WES shall be exempt from the provisions of this section.
(B) Federal and state requirements. All WES facilities shall meet or exceed standards and regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration and state statutes and any other agency of federal or state government with the authority to regulate WES facilities.
(1) Upon the filing of any application for a SWES conditional use permit, the applicant shall pay the county the appropriate fee as designated in Chapter 21 of this zoning title. These fees shall be utilized to help defray necessary administrative costs of processing the applications as required.
(2) The conditional use permit fee does not apply to a SWES located in the A-1 - General Agriculture District on property of 40 acres or more. This fee will be a building permit fee only and will be based on the project costs in the engineered plans and the current building permit fee adopted.
(3) Upon the filing of any application for a LWES, the applicant shall pay the county the appropriate fee as designated in Chapter 21 of this zoning title. If the application includes one additional unit there will be an additional charge of $100, if there are more than two units, or the units are over a total system height of 120 feet, there will be an additional $1,000 fee for each unit included in the application. These fees shall be utilized to help defray necessary administrative costs of processing the applications as required.
(D) District regulations.
(1) A SWES shall be an allowed conditional use in the A-2 - Residential Agriculture, RR - Rural Residential, PF - Park Forest, SRD - Suburban Residential, RC - Recreation Commercial, GC - General Commercial, HSC - Highway Service-Commercial, C/LI - Commercial/Light Industrial, and I-1 - General Industry Zoning Districts. A building permit is also required, and shall be issued only after the conditional use permit is approved by the County Commission.
(2) In the A-1 - General Agriculture District, a SWES is an allowed special use provided the SWES meets the requirements of divisions (E) and (G) below, is sited on at least 40 acres, and can be authorized by the Planning and Zoning Department with the issuance of a building permit.
(3) A LWES shall be an allowed conditional use in the A-1 - General Agriculture, A-2 - Residential Agriculture, RR - Rural Residential, PF - Park Forest, RC - Recreation Commercial, GC - General Commercial, HSC - Highway Service-Commercial, C/LI - Commercial/Light Industrial, and I-1 - General Industry Zoning Districts. A building permit is also required, and shall be issued only after the conditional use permit is approved by the County Commission.
(4) In the SRD - Suburban Residential District, a LWES is prohibited.
(5) Meteorological towers shall be an allowed conditional use in A-1 - General Agriculture, A-2 - Residential Agriculture, RR - Rural Residential, PF - Park Forest, SRD - Suburban Residential, RC - Recreation Commercial, GC - General Commercial, HSC - Highway Service-Commercial, C/LI - Commercial/Light Industrial, and I-1 - General Industry Zoning Districts.
Minimum Parcel Size Required to Apply (Acres)
Minimum Parcel Size Required to Apply (Acres)
No CUP needed if you can meet all requirements of a LWES. Administrator may issue a building permit.
*No minimum parcel size
*No minimum parcel size
*No minimum parcel size
*No minimum parcel size
(E) General standards for review.
(1) Structure. A WES must be of monopole construction to the extent practicable. If monopole construction is not practicable, a wind tower must be of freestanding construction to the extent practicable.
(2) Spacing and density. A WES must be separated from every other system, to include those on adjacent properties by a sufficient distance so that it does not interfere with another system.
(3) Clearance. The vertical distance from ground level to the tip of the wind turbine blade when the blade is at its lowest point must be at least 25 feet.
(4) Access. All ground mounted electrical and control equipment shall be labeled or secured to prevent unauthorized access, and the tower shall be designed and installed so as not to provide step bolts or a ladder readily accessible to the public for a minimum height of eight feet aboveground.
(5) Electrical wires. All electrical wires associated with a WES, other than wires necessary to connect the wind turbine to its base and to overhead collection lines, must be located underground.
(6) Code compliance. All WES must comply with all applicable state and federal codes and regulations.
(7) Lighting. All WES may not be artificially lighted unless such lighting is required by the Federal Aviation Administration. If lighting is required, the lighting must comply with the FAA minimum requirements and, whenever possible, be at the lowest intensity allowed, avoid the use of strobe or other intermittent white lights, and use steady red lights. If more than one lighting alternative is available, the alternative that causes the least visual disturbance must be used.
(8) Appearance, color, and finish. The exterior surface of any visible components of a WES must be a nonreflective or matte, white, grey, or another neutral color. Wind towers and turbines that are located within one mile of each other on a participating property must be of uniform design, including tower type, color, number of blades, and direction of blade rotation.
(9) Signs. No wind turbine, tower, building, or other structure associated with a WES may be used to advertise or promote any product or service. No word or graphic representation, other than appropriate warning signs and owner or landowner identification, may be placed on a wind turbine, tower, building, or other structure associated with a WES so as to be visible from any public road.
(10) Noise. WES facilities shall not exceed 50 dBA, as measured at any point on the property adjacent to the parcel on which the WES is located.
(11) Flicker or shadow flicker. The effect that results when the shadow cast by the rotating blade of a wind energy system moves across a fixed point. The owner of a WES must take such reasonable steps as are necessary to prevent, mitigate, and eliminate shadow flicker on any occupied structure on a nonparticipating property.
(12) Federal Aviation Administration. All WES shall comply with FAA standards and permits.
(13) Interference. The applicant shall minimize or mitigate interference with electromagnetic communications, such as radio, telephone, microwaves, or television signals caused by any WES. The applicant shall notify all communication tower operators within two miles of the proposed WES location upon application to the county for permits. No WES shall be constructed so as to interfere with county or State Department of Transportation microwave transmissions.
(14) Utility notification. No WES shall be installed until evidence has been given that the utility company has been informed of the customer’s intent to install an interconnected customer owned generator. Off-grid systems shall be exempt from this requirement.
(15) Compatibility with permitted land uses. The applicant must demonstrate that the proposed use is compatible with the permitted land uses in a given zoning district and that the external effects of the use in relation to the existing and planned uses of adjoining property and neighborhood can be mitigated through imposition of standards and conditions.
(F) Small wind energy systems.
(1) Standards for review. Setbacks are as follows.
(a) SWES shall not be located closer than one and one-tenth times the system height from all lot lines, public road rights-of-way, all utilities easements or lines, and all private easements.
(b) All SWES shall be at least 300 feet from any public park.
(2) Abandonment of small wind energy systems.
(a) A small wind energy system that is out of service for a continuous 12-month period will be deemed to have been abandoned and the Administrator may issue a notice of abandonment to the owner. If, within 30 days of receipt of a notice of abandonment, the owner provides the Administrator with written information showing that the system has not been abandoned, the Administrator will withdraw the notice.
(b) An owner shall provide the Administrator with a written notice of termination of operations if the operation of a wind energy system is terminated. Such notice shall be provided within 30 days of system operation termination.
(c) 1. A small wind energy system must be removed within three months of the mailing date of the notice of abandonment unless the Administrator withdraws the notice, or within six months of providing notice of termination of operations. The notice of abandonment shall be mailed by certified mail to the address of the property owner as listed by Director of Equalization records. The owner shall remove all:
a. Wind turbines, aboveground improvements, and outdoor storage;
b. Foundations, pads, and underground electrical wires and reclaim the site to a depth of four feet below the surface of the ground; and
c. Hazardous material from the property and dispose of the hazardous material in accordance with federal and state law.
2. If the owner fails to remove a small wind energy system and reclaim the site, the county may remove or cause the removal of the system and the reclamation of the site.
(G) Large wind energy systems.
(1) Standards for review.
1. A LWES shall not be closer than 1,000 feet or one and one-tenth times the system height, whichever is greater, from any occupied off-site residence, business, and public building. For the purposes of this section only, the term business does not include agricultural uses.
2. LWES shall not be located closer than 500 feet or one and one-tenth times the system height, whichever is greater, from all lot lines, public road rights-of-way, all utilities easements or lines, and all private easements.
(b) Footprint minimization. The permittee shall design and construct the LWES so as to minimize the amount of land that is impacted by the LWES. Associated facilities in the vicinity of turbines such as electrical/electronic boxes, transformers, and monitoring systems shall, to the extent practicable, be mounted on the foundations used for turbine towers or inside the towers unless otherwise allowed by the landowner on whose property the LWES is constructed.
(c) Site clearance. The permittee shall disturb or clear the site only to the extent necessary to assure suitable access for construction, safe operation, and maintenance of the LWES.
(d) Topsoil protection. The permittee shall implement measures to protect and segregate topsoil from subsoil in cultivated lands unless otherwise negotiated with the affected landowner.
(e) Compaction. The permittee shall implement measures to minimize compaction of all lands during all phases of the projects life and shall confine compaction to as small an area as practicable.
(f) Livestock protection. The permittee shall take precautions to protect livestock on the LWES site from project operations during all phases of the project’s life.
(g) Fences. The permittee shall promptly replace or repair all fences and gates removed or damaged by project operations during all phases of the project’s life unless otherwise negotiated by the fence owner.
(h) Public roads.
1. Prior to commencement of construction, the permittee shall identify all state, county, or township haul roads that will be used for the LWES project and shall notify the state, county, or township governing body having jurisdiction over the roads to determine if the haul roads identified are acceptable. The governmental body shall be given adequate time to inspect the haul roads prior to use of these haul roads. Where practicable, existing roadways shall be used for all activities associated with the LWES. Where practicable, all weather roads shall be used to deliver concrete, turbines, towers, assemble nacelles, and all other heavy components to and from the turbine sites.
2. The permittee shall, prior to the use of approved haul roads, make satisfactory arrangements with the appropriate state, county, or township governmental body having jurisdiction over approved haul roads for construction of the LWES for the maintenance and repair of the haul roads that will be subject to extra wear and tear due to transportation of equipment and LWES components. The permittee shall notify the Planning and Zoning Department of such arrangements.
(i) Turbine access roads. Construction of turbine access roads shall be minimized and shall be approved by the County Highway Department.
(j) Private roads. The permittee shall promptly repair private roads or lanes damaged when moving equipment or when obtaining access to the site, unless otherwise negotiated with the affected landowner.
(k) Control of dust. The permittees shall utilize all reasonable measures and practices of construction to control dust during construction.
(l) Soil erosion and sediment control plan. The permittees shall develop a soil erosion and sediment control plan prior to construction and submit the plan to the County Zoning Office. The soil erosion and sediment control plan shall address the erosion control measures for each project phase, and shall at a minimum identify: plans for grading, construction, and drainage of roads and turbine pads; necessary soil information; detailed design features to maintain downstream water quality; a comprehensive revegetation plan that uses native plant species to maintain and ensure adequate erosion control and slope stability and to restore the site after temporary project activities; and measures to minimize the area of surface disturbance. Other practices shall include containing excavated material, protecting exposed soil, stabilizing restored material, and removal of silt fences or barriers when the area is stabilized. The plan shall identify methods for disposal or storage of excavated material.
(m) Feeder lines. The permittee shall place overhead electric lines, known as feeders, on public rights-of-way if a public right-of-way exists or immediately adjacent to the public right-of-way on private property. Changes in routes may be made as long as feeders remain on public rights-of-way or immediately adjacent to the public right-of-way on private property and approval has been obtained from the governmental unit responsible for the affected right-of-way. If no public right-of-way exists, the permittee may place feeders on private property. When placing feeders on private property, the permittee shall place the feeder in accordance with the easement(s) negotiated. The permittee shall submit the site plan and engineering drawings for the feeder lines to the Board before commencing construction.
(n) Site plan information. Site plan information that may be required in addition to what is listed in division (H) below:
1. Boundaries of the site proposed for LWES and associated facilities on United States Geological Survey Map or other map as appropriate;
2. Map of easements for LWES;
3. Map of occupied residential structures, businesses, and public buildings within one-half mile of the proposed LWES site boundaries;
4. Preliminary map of sites for LWES, access roads, and utility lines. Location of other LWES within five miles of the proposed LWES site;
5. Project-specific environmental and cultural concerns (e.g., native habitat, rare species, and migratory routes). This information shall be provided in the application and obtained by consulting with the following agencies:
a. State Department of Game, Fish, and Parks;
b. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
c. Bureau of Land Management;
d. United States Forest Service; and
e. State Historical Society.
6. Project schedule;
7. Mitigation measures; and
8. Status of interconnection studies/agreements.
(2) Decommissioning of large wind energy systems.
(a) Cost responsibility. The owner or operator of a LWES is responsible for decommissioning that facility and for all costs associated with decommissioning that facility and associated facilities. The decommissioning plan shall clearly identify the responsible party.
(b) Useful life. A LWES is presumed to be at the end of its useful life if the facility generates no electricity for a continuous period of 12 months. The presumption may be rebutted by submitting to the County Commission for approval of a plan outlining the steps and schedule for returning the LWES to service within 12 months of the submission.
(c) Decommissioning period. The facility owner or operator shall begin decommissioning a LWES facility within eight months after the time the facility or turbine reaches the end of its useful life, as determined in division (G)(2)(b) above. Decommissioning must be completed within 18 months after the facility or turbine reaches the end of its useful life.
(d) Decommissioning requirements. Decommissioning and site restoration includes: dismantling and removal of all towers, turbine generators, transformers, overhead and underground cables, foundations, buildings, and ancillary equipment to a depth of 42 inches; and removal of surface road material and restoration of the roads and turbine sites to substantially the same physical condition that existed immediately before construction of the LWES. To the extent possible, the site must be restored and reclaimed to the topography and topsoil quality that existed just prior to the beginning of the construction of the commercial wind energy conversion facility or wind turbine. Disturbed earth must be graded and reseeded, unless the landowner requests in writing that the access roads or other land surface areas be retained.
(e) Decommissioning plan. Prior to a building permit being issued of a LWES facility, the facility owner or operator shall file with the County Commission the estimated decommissioning cost per turbine, in current dollars at the time of the application, for the proposed facility and a decommissioning plan that describes how the facility owner will ensure that resources are available to pay for decommissioning the facility at the appropriate time. The County Commission shall review a plan filed under this section and shall approve or disapprove the plan within six months after the decommissioning plan was filed. The County Commission may, at any time, require the owner or operator of a LWES to file a report describing how the LWES owner or operator is fulfilling this obligation.
(f) Financial assurance. The County Commission shall require a performance bond, surety bond, letter of credit, corporate guarantee, or other form of financial assurance that is acceptable to the County Commission to cover the anticipated costs of decommissioning the LWES.
(g) Failure to decommission. If the LWES owner or operator does not complete decommissioning, the County Commission may take such action as may be necessary to complete decommissioning, including requiring forfeiture of the bond. The entry into a participating landowner agreement shall constitute agreement and consent of the parties to the agreement, their respective heirs, successors, and assigns, that the County Commission may take such action as may be necessary to decommission a LWES and seek additional expenditures necessary to do so from the facility owner.
(h) Pre-construction filing. At least 45 days prior to commencement of construction, the applicant/permittee shall submit final maps depicting the approximate location of the proposed wind turbines, access roads, and collector and feeder lines. Upon completion, the applicant shall also supply an as-built ALTA survey indicating that the proposed facilities are in compliance with the setbacks in the permit.
(H) Conditional use permit application process. Application for a SWES and a LWES conditional use shall conform to Chapter 19 of this zoning title and be made in writing upon forms furnished by the County Planning and Zoning Department. At a minimum, the following complete information shall be provided before an application is considered:
(1) The name, address, and phone number of the project applicant;
(2) The name, address, and phone number of the project owner;
(3) The legal description and address of the project;
(4) A description of the project including:
(a) Number of units;
(b) Type of unit;
(c) Nameplate generating capacity;
(d) Tower height;
(e) Rotor diameter;
(g) Blade length;
(h) Manufacturer and model;
(i) Total height of all wind turbines; and
(j) Means of interconnecting with the electrical grid.
(5) Tower blueprints or drawings and foundation blueprints or drawings;
(6) Scale diagram showing proposed location of aboveground and underground electrical wiring, access routes, landscaping, and fencing;
(7) Statement describing any hazardous materials that will be used on the property and how those materials will be sorted;
(8) Documentation of land ownership or legal control of the property;
(9) Global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of proposed WES;
(10) A U.S.G.S. topographical map, or map with similar data, of the property and surrounding area, including any other WES within ten rotor diameters of the proposed WES;
(11) An acoustical analysis, when deemed necessary by the Planning and Zoning Board or County Commission;
(12) FAA permit application, if applicable;
(13) Description of potential impacts on nearby WES and wind resources on adjacent properties;
(14) Certification that each WES shall be installed in compliance with manufacturer’s specifications, along with a copy of the manufacturers specifications;
(15) Location of any aboveground utility lines within or adjacent to the property;
(16) Proposed ingress and egress; and
(17) Other such data and information deemed necessary by the County Planning Department.
(Ord. 14-01, passed 6-6-2014, Ch. 10, Art. 1)