Morenci planning commission 2013.10.02

Morenci planning commission members continued discussion about creating an ordinance to govern the presence of wind turbines in the city.

Zoning administrator Jacob Barnes made a few changes to a proposed ordinance following the group’s discussion in August, including the general requirement of where a turbine could be placed.

Th e latest revision would allow turbines in the Skyline Industrial District on the south edge of town and on any property of five acres or greater, regardless of the zoning classification.

Commissioner Keith Pennington said he could install two turbines on his property with that rule, but he said that he wouldn’t do it due to concern for his neighbors.

Pennington said he wasn’t in favor of allowing turbines anywhere inside the city.

Barnes said the ordinance could be written to allow a turbine only with a conditional use permit which would allow the planning commission to judge the merits of any request. Or, as an alternative, the permit could be needed for any turbine greater than 90 feet, for example.

A height restriction of 35 feet is already in place for residential areas, Pennington said, although someone else mentioned that it isn’t enforced for television antennas.

Other proposed requirements include:

• Restricting the height to 180 feet;

• Creating a fall zone of at least 100 percent of the height from any property line, building or right-of-way;

• Restricting the noise generated to no more than 65 dBA;

• Enclosing the turbine tower with a fence unless it is not able to be climbed for a distance of at least 12 feet;

• Burying transmission lines.

DESIGN—Further discussion about a proposed ordinance for downtown building design standards will return to the October planning commission meeting, along with the turbine ruling.

“I think it’s a double-edged sword,” said commissioner Brad Frederick. “We don’t want to put extra burdens on business owners, but if someone comes up with a wild idea or outlandish colors, people will say, ‘You had a chance to stop it’.”

“We’re obviously trying to help business,”Barnes said. “It’s only going to benefit everyone.”

Pennington reminded the group that there would be no retroactive component. The ordinance would only affect future maintenance projects.

Th e proposal would require review of a limited site plan—description of project, materials used and color schemes—to be reviewed by the zoning inspector. No fee would be charged.

If moved forward by the inspector, details of the project would then be presented to the planning commission for approval.

Design criteria includes the relationship of the building to the site, the relationship with existing buildings, the building design and maintenance factors including color and material used.

The goal would be to maintain general harmony with existing buildings. Permits for general maintenance such as painting would not require a permit, Barnes said.

“I don’t understand why wood and steel are not allowed,” said commissioner Lowell Oberhaus.

New treatments to steel, he said, can make it look quite attractive, he said, and Frederick agreed. He’s seen steel siding that resembles cedar shakes, for example.

Some wood and steel could fit in, Barnes said, although Pennington expressed his concern about placing too many subjective decisions on the commission. Board members and opinion change often, he said, and more subjectivity favors allowing something to happen.

Much of the proposal already is subjective, Oberhaus said.

“That’s true,” Barnes said, “but as a whole it fits into the same intent. Let’s start with this and see how it goes and make changes when needed.”

“We’re trying to get something in place that protects the appearance of the downtown,” Pennington said, “without being too demanding.”

SECRETARY—Commission member Art Ebskorn, who was absent from the meeting, was chosen to serve as secretary.