Randolph County is following in Monroe County’s footsteps by developing a wind energy ordinance.
On June 14, Randolph County Land Resource Management Director Joe Hackler presented Randolph County Commissioners with a draft version of the wind energy conversion system ordinance.
The county has taken no action on the ordinance, which is still in its early stages.
“The central overriding goal of the planning commission during this process was to have a finished product that protects property owners, home owners and the county, as well as providing predictability and a fair process to potential developers,” a media handout on the ordinance states.
That sentence is almost identical to one outlining the purpose of Monroe County’s WECS ordinance.
At least in its draft form, the two ordinances share many such similarities.
Those include requiring potential developers to submit an application that includes studies, reports, certifications and approvals including Federal Aviation Administration approval, design safety certifications from professional engineers, specifications about the turbines and more.
There are also some key differences between the two ordinances.
Perhaps the most significant is the Randolph County ordinance draft requires turbines be set back 2,500 feet from principal use structures and 1,000 feet from property lines, public roads and public utility lines.
In Monroe County, those setbacks are 1.25 times the wind turbine height and 1.1 times the wind turbine height, respectively.
A principal use structure is one that is occupied the majority of the time for business or personal reasons.
The Monroe County Fair Wind Coalition, which opposes the wind farm local developer Joe Koppeis has proposed building in the area, has argued Monroe County’s setbacks are not far enough.
Randolph County’s are significantly farther, as the maximum height for a wind turbine in either county is 650 feet.
Randolph County also requires turbines to be at least 1,000 feet away from a non-participating resident’s property line. In Monroe County, that distance is 1.25 times the turbine height.
The Monroe County ordinance is stricter, however, in its requirements for environmental impact studies.
That ordinance outlines extensive work a developer must do to determine the impact of wind turbines on wildlife including reviewing existing literature, mapping significant vegetation and land cover types and conducting in-depth post-construction mortality studies of birds and bats.
The Randolph County ordinance touches on many of those issues, but not nearly as specifically as Monroe County’s does.
A public hearing on the proposed wind ordinance in Randolph County takes place from 6-9 p.m. July 16 at St. Patrick’s Church Hall in Ruma.