The village Zoning Code defines and regulates all wind-operated energy devices, with such terminals  only being permitted on agriculturally zoned properties that are at least 2 ½ acres in size. They are allowed with a special use permit on residential, office and commercial lots but, again, the parcel must be at least 2 ½ acres in size.

Those regulations appear to have been adopted when all wind turbines were on tall towers. But now, smaller, roof-mounted turbines are available and in response to that change, plus a request from a resident to put one on the roof of his home, staff to drafted a text amendment to the zoning code that would allow those kinds of devices, on smaller parcels of land, around the village.

First stop in the approval process for this amendment was a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission. That meeting was held May 23 with five of the seven commissioners present and two absent.

While making her presentation to commissioners, village Planning and Zoning Manager Carrie Houston explained staff was proposing making such devices an allowable use in all zoning districts except the mobile home (MH) district.

Among the use criteria were:

One roof-mounted wind turbine is allowed per parcel, and only if it supplies electrical power solely for on-site use.

The turbine with supports shall not be more than eight feet in height. Also, the turbine on the roof shall not extend taller than the maximum height allowed for principal structures in the zoning district, where the property is located. The maximum height would be 35 feet in single-family and two-family zoning districts. In industrial districts, the height may vary from 45 feet to 75 feet, with there being no height limit in commercial districts. However, the equipment itself could be no taller than eight feet. 

All turbine equipment would have a flat finish, and may not have any lighting attached to it or projected onto it.

An electrical building permit must be applied for, and issued, prior to installation of any roof-mounted turbine equipment.

Some questions

There were a few questions and comments from among commissioners at the meeting.

Commissioner Jim Hankins asked if the text amendment meant there would be no more ground-mounted wind turbines in the village?

Manager Houston clarified such devices would still be allowed on 2 ½-acres in agricultural districts, and as a special use in other districts.

He further inquired about someone living on a farmette that had an old windmill that previously pumped water, but now was just decorative. Would the amendment allow it to be converted into a turbine for electrical power?

Houston replied such a windmill would be a ground-mounted turbine, exceeding the height limitation and as such would be a permitted use, but it would require a special use permit.

Commission Chairman Jay Alms suggested that in addition to a building permit for electrical, there also should be a structural inspection, to be certain the roof that these turbines were attached to could support their weight. He added that would be important in the event such turbines were on a home addition, just built by the homeowner.

Village Administrator James Richter II took that inquiry, saying such requirements already were covered in existing building and electrical codes.

Finally, Commissioner Jonathan Danielewicz asked about code requirements for storing electricity at a home?

Houston said research she conducted of roof-mounted turbines currently for sale, determined they don’t generate enough electricity to actually have enough extra to store. They only are a supplement to reduce electrical bills, she added.

Chairman Alms interjected that he thought the village’s electric code would address the storage of battery power.

With there being no further questions or comments, the commission voted 5-0 with two absent to recommend approval of the proposed text amendment to the zoning code.

It was referred to the planning and economic development (PED) for consideration at its June 6 meeting. PED is one of four advisory committees and commissions for the village board.   

Without discussion, PED voted 4-0 with three absent to send Ordinance 26-22, containing the text amendment, to the July 5 village board meeting for action. Being that it had a positive recommendation, the ordinance was placed on the consent agenda where it was approved, 7-0, also without discussion.

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