Hearing set for Seneca Township wind farm ordinance 2012.01.04

Written by David Green.

A hearing is scheduled at 7 p.m. Jan. 11 to discuss a proposed wind turbine ordinance for Seneca Township.

Planning commission member Scott Zuvers said the group modeled the ordinance after the one used by Palmyra Township, but with a few modifications.

Zuvers said he hasn’t seen any wind studies of the township, but he was told that land south of Weston Road is the most suitable for turbine placement.

At this time, no inquiries about wind farm development have been made to the township board.

The ordinance would require a site plan review before construction of a wind energy facility could begin. The review includes a description of any road improvements that would be necessary and an agreement to repair any damage to roads caused by construction. Damage must be repaired within one year.

The hub of a turbine is limited to 330 feet in height and the setback distance from an inhabited house is 1,320 feet or three times the total height, including the turbine blade. The setback from public roads and electrical lines is a minimum of 1.5 times the total height.

The noise level from a wind farm would be limited to 50 decibels, or the ambient sound level plus five decibels, whichever is greater, as measured from a participating property—a property with a lease agreement with the farm owner—and 45 decibels at a non-participating property.

The ambient or background noise would be measured during a 24-hour period.

Turbines are to be placed in a location that will prevent interference with broadcast signals, radio reception, wireless communication, etc.

The ordinance also includes a provision pertaining to shadow flicker—the moving shadow created by the sun shining through the rotating blades of a turbine. Shadow flicker adversely affects some individuals.

A wind energy facility developer would be required to present a detailed report outlining shadow impacts on adjoining property and mitigation efforts that could reduce the flicker. 

MEETING—At the township board’s Dec. 12 meeting, clerk Allison Ott spoke about the millage renewal that will appear on the ballot in February.

The board seeks renewal of a two-mill levy for roads and bridges, but the ballot will also list an additional 0.0798 mills.

 That amount is not actually an increase, Ott said, but a measure to correct the wording of the levy to retain all of the revenue in Seneca Township. With the current wording, a portion of the tax money goes to the state.

The February vote will be scheduled in conjunction with the state’s presidential primary election.

RENTAL—After the board was asked about renting the township hall for a private event, the board voted against making the hall available for rent.

COURT—The next court date for the VanPelt and Weller properties is scheduled June 11. The property owners were cited for not being in compliance with the township rubbish ordinance.

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