Greene County PC Considers Ordinance Governing Wind Turbines

By. Kara Reese Pennella, Greene County Field Officer

Action Summary:

  • SUP #09-004 Request for a special use permit for a residential accessory structure greater than 768 square feet on a 4.64 Residential Lot – Approval Recommended
  • OR #09-004 Revisions to Greene County Zoning Ordinance Article 14 – Sign Regulations – Approval Recommended
  • OR #09-005 Revisions to Greene County Zoning Ordinance Article 21A – Wind Turbines – Approval Recommended

The Greene County Planning Commission recommended approval of a zoning ordinance amendment to allow wind generation of power in Greene County at its regular September meeting. Prior to the public hearing on wind turbines, the Commission also recommended approval of a special use permit and revisions to the sign ordinance

First, on the agenda was an application by Wendell & Janice Lamb requesting a special use permit for the construction of a covered picnic shelter larger than 768 square feet. The lot is zoned residential, but currently doesn’t have a home on it. Staff recommended approval with some conditions including restoration of a stream buffer, a 20 ft screening yard, no pipe will be allowed to drain into the stream on the property and outdoor lighting will be mounted horizontal to the ground.

Applicant briefly addressed the Planning Commission. The purpose of the shelter is to host family gatherings. Applicant has 15 grandchildren and needed a space for family functions. One neighbor addressed the Commission with concerns that the shelter might be used by outside groups or to host special functions other than the family gatherings. He was not necessarily opposed to the project, but had some questions about the use of the structure. After a brief discussion, the Commission recommended approval of the application with staff’s recommended conditions.

The Planning Commission also held a public hearing on revisions to the sign ordinance. The most notable change to the ordinance was the removal of electronic message boards from the ordinance. The three signs have been recently approved would remain in place; however, new applications for the electronic signs would no longer be permitted. This change came at the request of the Board of Supervisors. The ordinance also clarifies that advertising vehicles are not permitted.

Both Andrea Wilkinson and Larry Miller addressed the Commission about the sign ordinance requesting that signs be kept low and farther from the road. The Planning Commission had some questions about advertising vehicles. B. Martin wanted clarification regarding what is an advertising vehicle. Staff noted that advertising vehicles are the equivalent to rolling billboards. Regular company vehicles and delivery vehicles are still permitted under the ordinance. B. Martin moved to recommend approval of the ordinance revision. D. Lamb seconded the motion which was approved by a unanimous vote.

The final and most controversial public hearing of the evening was an ordinance revision to allow wind turbines in Greene County. Currently, there is no provision in the zoning ordinance to allow them. The ordinance regulates the turbines based on height, decibels produced and setbacks on the lot. The proposed ordinance would allow them by special use permit only.

Several residents and property owners on Flat Top Mountain opposed the revisions. They felt they lived in the only location in the County that is suitable for wind power, so this would impact them negatively. One citizen stated that it is unfair to allow someone to put a wind turbine up and a spoil their view just because they want to reduce their electric bill. One resident spoke in favor of the ordinance noting that lot of people are looking for another way to produce power. He noted that not all systems are the large wind farm type people usually think of. There are now smaller versions which can be mounted to rooftops. He also suggested that turbines be limited by the kilowatts that they produce to limit larger wind production operations.

The Commission was interested in the residents concerns. N Slezak noted he would like to help protect the interest of the people on Flat Top Mountain. B. Martin noted he understood citizen concern; however, the county has no ordinance right now to deal with this issue. He believes that we need to start somewhere. He also noted that he felt the economic viability of the turbines would limit their use. A. Herring asked about any state regulations of wind turbines that the Commission should consider. Staff noted that there were none. J. Frydl noted that the ordinance only allowed the turbines by special use permit meaning that the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will have an opportunity to review any request before it is approved. D. Lamb moved to recommend approval of the revision. A. Herring seconded the motion, which passed by a unanimous vote.


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