The city of Avon Lake has considered making way for land-based wind turbines for more than a year.
However, before the first monopole can be erected, the city needs to adopt a new zoning code to establish the requirements for installing and maintaining the turbines. Ward 2 Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch and the city’s Renewable Energy Task Force worked with Zoning Administrator Ruth Booher to create the language for the new code.
They presented the code to the Planning Commission in fall 2009, but the commission asked them to make some changes.
Since then, the city’s Renewable Energy Task Force has been revising the language and looking for guidance to other cities that have created zoning codes and installed wind turbines. The first code only mentioned wind turbines on a tower; since going back, Fenderbosch said they’ve expanded the code to include other forms, such as a cube. Originally, the task force worked up chapters for the different alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal. Later, the members decided, instead, to have one chapter broken down into sections for each.
Another obstacle the task force has to work through is that every structure, along with meeting local zoning codes, would also have to meet the Ohio Building Code. The state code doesn’t include wind turbines, Fenderbosch said, so they’ve had to seek guidance from the city’s building official, Tom Carleton.
Fenderbosch said she expects to have a finished product for wind energy in 30 to 60 days.
“I’d say we’re about 90 percent there,” Fenderbosch said.
When it comes time again, the city’s law director will review the language. Then the task force will present the new proposed code to the Planning Commission. Should the commission approve it, the code would then move on to City Council for a final vote.
Though the city zoning code would allow for wind turbines, there’s more to it than just the law. With Lorain County joining the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), Fenderbosch said everything every community does with wind energy needs to work regionally with the county’s sustainability coordinator, Mike Challender.
LEEDCo is the nonprofit organization set up by the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force, which plans to set up the first freshwater wind turbine farm in Lake Erie. Fenderbosch is a member of the Great Lakes task force. Challender, who represents the Lorain County Commissioners to LEEDCo and sits on the task force’s executive committee, is also a member of Avon Lake’s Renewable Energy Task Force.
Challender said the Lorain County Commissioners held a meeting last year to help communities draft legislation that would help property owners wanting to install wind turbines.
“With all the publicity and money that’s been spent on installing advance technology, we, the Center for Sustainability in the Lorain County offices hope we could use what’s taken place in one community and expand it to help other communities participate,” said Chandler.
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