Commissioners establish wind turbine regulations

By Matt Keeton
Staff Writer | reporter@ogemawherald.com
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STANDISH — Those seeking to construct an electricity-producing wind turbine on their property in Arenac County will now have to comply with county inspection regulations.

The Arenac County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to establish regulations regarding the construction of wind turbines within the county at its Jan. 1 meeting. Commissioner Jeff Trombley cast the dissenting vote.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Snyder said the measure places the construction of turbines producing electrical energy within the jurisdiction of the county building department.

“Our building department has basically put these towers into their building enforcement (codes),” Snyder said.

Snyder said the new regulations enacted by the commissioners require that a permit be purchased to construct a wind turbine, and that two inspections be held during construction. He said the permit and inspections will cost a total of $180.

“If you’re going to do this, you have to get a county permit,” Snyder said.

The reasoning behind the decision, Snyder said, is to make sure that any wind turbines constructed within the county are built correctly and do not put neighboring residents in danger.

“You’re building a structure,” Snyder said. “It’s got to have engineered drawings so it meets the requirements of that particular turbine.”

Trombley said he voted against the measure because he feels the necessity of regulation depends upon the location of a wind turbine. He said that, while any wind turbines built in a populated area should be regulated, one built in a large, open space should not necessarily have to meet the same requirements.

“You’ve got to have some regulations, and I think the townships and city are in a much better position to regulate it then the county is,” Trombley said.

Trombley added that he is concerned that closely regulating wind turbine construction may discourage people from investing in it.

“You don’t want to stifle it before the word go,” Trombley said. “The more regulations you dump on it, the more people are going to think not to try it.”

Trombley suggested a height requirement prior to the vote, saying that any wind turbine more than 40 feet tall be subject to regulation.

“We decided not to have a height requirement on it,” Snyder said.

Snyder said it is important a wind turbine be inspected regardless of its height because improper construction of any wind turbine producing electrical energy can be dangerous no matter how small it is. He said that it is also important that electrical inspectors check connections between turbines and building structures.

Snyder said that anyone seeking to construct a wind turbine should check with their township for zoning regulations and contact the Arenac County Building Department.

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Just for clarification: the building department does not decide to add things to the code; it is already established though the Michigan Residential Code (most current is the 2009 edition). The entire st ate is under this same code and all departments are to follow it; it is not an option to follow, it is mandated. In part it reads...

R105.5 Required. Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish [a structure] or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by this code, to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.

Wind Turbines which produce electrical energy and Wind Mills which produce mechanical energy would be a new element to our community. The department felt it necessary just to clarify that any type of residential installation would fall under our existing "tower" fee which was primarily used under commercial applications (cell phone towers etc,). We feel that addressing this issue ahead of any inquiries will make for a smooth process and not delay any installation should this technology be an item homeowners would like to utilize. Many townships & municipalities including their respective building departments either already have or are in the process of, adding this to their ordinances and fee structures in preparation of any installations. All height or set back requirements are established through zoning ordinances set by townships or cities, not the Michigan Res. Code.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 | Report this

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