2012-04-19 / Local News

Solon residents voice concerns on commercial wind zoning ordinance

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

IT WAS standing room only at last week’s meeting of the Solon Township Board where a proposed wind energy ordinance was sent back to township planners for revisions. IT WAS standing room only at last week’s meeting of the Solon Township Board where a proposed wind energy ordinance was sent back to township planners for revisions. A proposed zoning amendment that would allow commercial wind energy systems is being sent back to the Solon Township Planning Commission.

More than 65 people crowded the Cedar fire hall last Thursday to speak on the proposed amendment which would allow large wind energy systems as a special use in Solon Township.

Eighteen people spoke during the public comment section of the monthly meeting — more than half in opposition.

“Progress is good as long as it doesn’t affect quality of life,” township resident Lou Wolf said. “If this is truly the most beautiful place in the country, let’s keep it that way.”

The 10-page document recommended by the township Planning Commission would allow commercial wind systems as a special use in the Residential/Agricultural and Agricultural zoning districts.

A 10-acre minimum per tower would be required in the districts. “Small wind” energy systems, those rated 30 kilowatts or less with towers less than 120 feet in height, are those intended to primarily reduce on-site consumption of utility power. “Large wind systems,” those rated at more than 30 kilowatts or rising more than 120 feet and less than 360 feet in height, would also be allowed as a special use.

However, the bulk of those opposed to the amendment said 10 acres is too small for each commercial wind turbine.

“It doesn’t allow enough space between the houses and the blades,” said Sarah Mulder, who with husband, Joel have formed Solon Township Area Residents (STAR). The group submitted a petition supported by 200 residents opposed to the ordinance as proposed. “There’s no teeth to it.”

Others in the audience expressed concern that the proposed ordinance would not align with existing regulations regulating “nuisance” and the height of towers, which is 199 feet.

“The ordinance states that antennae be limited in height and camouflaged to preserve the scenic beauty of the township,” resident Tamara Broad said. “This (amendment) is a complete 180.”

However, not everyone in the audience was opposed to the ordinance.

Township resident BJ Christensen said she was in favor of wind power.

“It’s a good alternative to coal-produced energy which produce toxins,” she said. “It’s not the perfect answer, but it should be part of the solution.”

After more than an hour of input, the Township Board voted 5-0 to accept more input during next month’s regular meeting and then forward the comments and the proposed ordinance to the Planning Commission for reconsideration.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m., May 10 at the fire hall in Cedar.

In other business during the 1¾-hour meeting the board:

• Adopted the 2012-13 budget as recommended during the March 31 annual meeting.

• Approved a one-year renewal of its contract with assessor Marcie Hester. She will be paid $12,000 for services in 2012-13.

• Authorized clerk Shirley Mikowski to seek bids for the Cedar Fire Department and the township’s biennial audit.

• Authorized the repair of a water line between the fire hall and the grub shack at the baseball fields, provided volunteers contact MISS DIG before work is begun.

• Learned that repairs to the dam at Joe Vlack Park will have to be postponed until fall because of high water levels at the pond.

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