Cedar Falls moving forward with small wind ordinance

This article appeared in the Chicago Tribune:

Cedar Falls has only one private wind turbine for now, but the northern Iowa city is moving ahead with a proposed ordinance to regulate wind energy facilities.  The Planning and Zoning Commission recently recommended approval of the new ordinance, which now goes to the City Council.

Mike Miller, who operates a company that markets solar and wind energy alternatives, has been working with the commission on the ordinance over the past year. Miller told the commission on Wednesday there is only one private wind turbine in Cedar Falls, and it’s in his backyard — a 35-foot-tall structure.  But Miller said there’s been a lot of interest in small facilities for powering homes or small businesses.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports the proposed ordinance covers both large- and small-scale ventures. But City Planner Marty Ryan said small operations would be more likely in the city limits.

“We really don’t anticipate wind farms to happen in Cedar Falls, but it’s possible we could have larger stand-alone facilities here or there,” Ryan said.

For small turbines on residential lots, like the one in Miller’s yard, the ordinance would limit the height to 60 feet. It also requires a setback from neighboring properties equal to the height of the tower, although a property owner could appeal to the city to have that setback reduced by half.  The commission also added consideration for towers up to 80 feet tall under special circumstances, a stipulation that Miller recommended. He said an 80-foot tower may come about to get above 60-foot trees.  The ordinance also would allow small roof-mounted facilities, if they do not extend more than 15 feet above the roof.

Larger, industrial facilities generating more than 100 kilowatts of power would be limited to areas zoned agricultural or industrial and be subject to setbacks 1 1/2 times the height of the building.  Smaller facilities generating less than 100 kilowatts would be allowed in commercial districts or higher density residential areas, such as apartment complexes. Those towers could be built up to 150 feet tall.

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