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Sun., Dec. 21
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Theresa tackles wind zoning law

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THERESA — Without the public rancor that has plagued other Jefferson County communities, the town has formulated a zoning law to govern wind power projects and wind turbines for personal use.

"We don't have anyone interested but we have noticed what other towns have had," supervisor Clinton A. Coolidge said.

The zoning law proposal is part of a series of new zoning laws for the town, including permits for temporary use of recreational vehicles as residential space and rules for fences.

In the commercial turbine rule proposal, sound from the turbines cannot exceed ambient noise that already exists by more than five decibels at the nearest property line. Neighboring property owners could grant a waiver to this rule.

In reviewing the proposed changes at a county Planning Board meeting Tuesday afternoon, county Senior Planner Michael J. Bourcy said that may be more appropriate for a variance review, not simple signature.

"They should really discuss this with the town attorney to see if they can do this," he said.

Turbines cannot be placed closer than 1,250 feet from property lines or 800 feet from the high-water mark of any lake or river.

Other commercial wind turbine regulations include:

n Requiring transmission lines to run underground.

n Outlawing advertising or lighting beyond Federal Aviation Administration rules.

n Requiring corrective action for communication or broadcast interference.

n Limiting height of the turbines to 500 feet.

n Minimizing erosion and harm to wetlands.

The zoning law proposal includes a requirement for a decommissioning plan if the turbines need to be taken down and a complaint resolution process if residents raise issues about the project.

For personal wind turbines, the proposed zoning law allows one turbine per lot of at least one acre. They would be placed at least two and a half times their height from all property lines. And the turbines cannot exceed production of 100 kilowatts.

The small turbines could not create more noise than six decibels above ambient levels at property lines, or more than five decibels above ambient if the ambient level exceeds 50 decibels.

The regulations as written would require an independent engineer's certification on noise measurements for small turbines, but not the commercial turbines, Mr. Bourcy said.

It also would not require a site plan for small turbines, but would for commercial turbines and wind measurement towers.

The town also did not include additional setbacks for the village, other towns, Indian River Wildlife Management Area, on-site residences, state-listed wetlands or roads.

"The setbacks from lot lines may, in fact, create setbacks from these other areas, but the town needs to decide if they would be the correct setbacks," he said.

Under the proposed changes, recreational vehicles cannot be used for more than two weeks for regular residential purposes. They must be parked in a driveway or other regular parking area and have a permit from the town's zoning officer.

The proposed law will ensure people don't use recreational vehicles as residences, Mr. Coolidge said.

County Planning Department staff questioned if the town wants to force each recreational vehicle owner to obtain a permit.

New rules for fences include a height limit of six feet, but only three feet if they are placed within 25 feet of the edge of the road. It would eliminate using electrical fences for non-agricultural uses, chain link fences in front yards without a special permit and barbed wire unless on top of chain link fences.

Times staff writer Daniel Woolfolk contributed to this report.

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