St. Mary's Gov. Clears Path for Wind Energy Systems - Southern Maryland Headline News

St. Mary's Gov. Clears Path for Wind Energy Systems


LEONARDTOWN, Md. (Dec. 17, 2008)—The Board of County Commissioners for St. Mary’s County on Tuesday approved a text amendment that permits small wind energy systems to be constructed and utilized in all zoning districts. Systems may generate no more than 100 kilowatts and the electricity must only be consumed on-site.

Under the new amendment, one wind turbine will be permitted as an accessory for use by homes, farms, or small businesses with building permit and site plan approval. The systems will have height requirements, depending upon the size of lots and setback requirements.

The new amendment also allows personnel from Naval Air Station Patuxent River to review the building permit to determine if the proposed tower will interfere with "military activities." The provision allows the military to nix the approval of the permit.

The provision that requires the wind-generated electricity to be consumed only on-site means that the wind turbine owner may not sell the power commercially, according to Susan McCauley, Department of Land Use and Growth Management.  "[The wind turbine] can be connected to the SMECO grid and SMECO already has a program in place to handle this," said McCauley in an emailed response.

Federal regulations, specifically the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, or PURPA, require utilities to connect with and purchase power from small wind energy systems, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy.

The commissioners held a public hearing to discuss the amendment and to receive public comments on November 3 and it was continued on Nov. 18. A comment period was held open for 10 days and the commissioners voted their approval at Tuesday’s meeting. The amendment is expected to go for the final signature of the commissioners by the end of the calendar year.

“We heard testimony from residents that these wind-powered electric systems could be used to lower electric bills,” commented Jack Russell, President, Board of County Commissioners.

RELATED INFORMATION:

Maryland Energy Administration Solar, Geothermal and Wind Grants
http://www.energy.state.md.us/incentives/residential/

U.S. Dept. of Energy “Small Wind Electric Systems, A Maryland Consumer’s Guide

St. Mary's Considers Amendment to Allow Wind Power Generation, Aug. 13, 2008
http://somd.com/news/headlines/2008/8108.shtml

EARTH TALK: Status of Wind Power in the U.S., May 9, 2008
http://somd.com/news/headlines/2008/7645.shtml

Wind Power System Ordinance
(Signature is expected by year's end)

WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 28.1.2 of the St. Mary's County Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance Z-02-01, hereinafter, the "Zoning Ordinance"), the St. Mary's County Planning Commission (hereinafter, the "Planning Commission") may make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners for St. Mary's County (hereinafter, the "Board") to supplement, modify, or repeal provisions of the text of the Zoning Ordinance; and

WHEREAS, the Board directed the Planning Commission to consider amending Schedule 50.4, "Use Classifications, Use Types and Location within Zoning Districts" in Chapter 50, "Use Classifications" to add a new Use Type 93, Small Wind Energy System and renumber the succeeding Use Types; and

WHEREAS, the Board directed the Planning Commission to consider amending Chapter 51, "Use Regulations and Standards" to add new language establishing standards for Use Type 93; and

WHEREAS, the Board directed the Planning Commission to consider amending Chapter 90, "Definitions" to add new terms and definitions for a Small Wind Energy System and its interrelated parts; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission, following due notice published in the September 5, 2008 and September 10, 2008 editions of The Enterprise, a newspaper of general circulation in St. Mary's County, held a public hearing on September 22, 2008, continued the hearing to October 27, 2008, and conducted a work session on November 17, 2008, to accept public comment regarding the proposed amendments to Chapter 50 of the Zoning Ordinance with regard to amending the language of Schedule 50.4 to add new Use Type 93, Small Wind Energy System; Chapter 51 of the Zoning Ordinance with regard to establishing requirements for a Small Wind Energy System; and Chapter 90 of the Zoning Ordinance with regard to providing definitions for a Small Wind Energy System and its interrelated parts; and

WHEREAS, upon due consideration of the comments of the public, and finding that it is in the best interest of the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of St. Mary's County, Maryland, the Planning Commission adopted Resolution 08-17, Small Wind Energy System, to favorably recommend their proposed amendments to the Board of County Commissioners; and

WHEREAS, the Board, following due notice published in the October 17, 2008 and October 22, 2008 editions of The Enterprise, a newspaper of general circulation in St. Mary's County, held a public hearing on November 3, 2008 and continued the hearing to November 18, 2008 regarding the proposed amendments of Chapters 50, 51, and 90 of the St. Mary's County Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance; and

WHEREAS, all procedural requirements of Article 66B of the Maryland Annotated Code, as amended, with regard to preparation of the recommendation of the Planning Commission and subsequent action of the Board of County Commissioners for St. Mary's County have been met; and

WHEREAS, upon due consideration of the comments of the public and staff, and upon careful review of the recommendations of the St. Mary's County Planning Commission, the Board of County Commissioners concludes that it is in the best interest of the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of St. Mary's County, Maryland, to forego the recommended changes to the text amendment proposed by the Planning Commission and adopt amendments to the St. Mary's County Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance set forth below, which shall otherwise remain in full force and effect.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the Board of County Commissioners for St. Mary's County that the St. Mary's County Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance Z-02-01) be amended as follows:

In Schedule 50.4, under Transportation, Communication and Utility Use Classifications, add a new Use Type 93, Small Wind Energy System, and renumber the succeeding Use Types. Fill in the columns regarding use intensity and zoning districts.

93. Small Wind Energy System. Wind-powered electric system sized for homes, farms, and small businesses with a capacity of 100 kilowatts and below.

In the "Use Intensity" column for Use Type 93, add the word "Low." Add an "A" for accessory use in all zoning districts. In the column titled Critical Area Overlay, add RCA, LDA, and IDA.


In Section 51.3, add new language describing Use Type 93, Small Wind Energy System, and renumber the succeeding Use Types.

93. Small Wind Energy System.

a. Accessory Standards:

(1) The purpose of these regulations is to allow a Small Wind Energy System used to generate electricity at a rated capacity (as defined by the manufacturer) of 100 kilowatts or less to be constructed and installed for on-site consumption only. The application submitted by the property owner or his designated representative to the Department of Land Use and Growth Management for a building permit to construct a Small Wind Energy System shall satisfactorily address the standards as set forth below:

(a) A building permit shall be obtained prior to installing a small wind energy system. The building permit application shall be accompanied by a site plan of the property, including all boundaries, drawn to scale, showing the following information. Approval of the building permit shall be subject to a determination by appropriate personnel affiliated with Patuxent River Naval Air Station as to noninterference with military activities.

1. The location of the proposed small wind energy system and the locations of all existing buildings, structures, overhead utility lines, and environmental features including woodland and other vegetation shall be shown on the site plan; and

2. The distance between the small wind energy system tower and structures on adjoining properties shall be shown on the site plan; and the distance between the small wind energy system tower and property lines shall be shown on the site plan.


(b) Compliance with Uniform Statewide Building Code: Building permit applications for small wind energy systems shall be accompanied by standard drawings of the wind turbine structure, including the tower, base, and footings. An engineering analysis of the tower showing compliance with the Uniform Statewide Building Code shall also be submitted. This analysis may be supplied in the form of documentation from the manufacturer or supplier. Submit the footing specifications developed by the tower supplier or manufacturer.

(c) A Small Wind Energy System must comply with regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), if applicable, including any necessary approvals for installations close to airports.

(d) Compliance with National Electric Code: Building permit applications for Small Wind Energy Systems shall be accompanied by a line drawing of the electrical components in sufficient detail to allow for a determination that the manner of installation conforms to the National Electrical Code. This information may be supplied by the manufacturer.

(e) Wind turbines shall be the default color of the manufacturer or painted a non-reflective, neutral color that conforms to the environment.

(f) A Small Wind Energy System shall not exceed the ambient noise levels as established by Schedule 61.4.1 of this Ordinance, Maximum Noise Standards by Zoning District.

(g) A Small Wind Energy System shall not be artificially lighted unless required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or other applicable authority.

(h) A Small Wind Energy System shall not be used for displaying any advertising. Appropriate warning signs and signs identifying the manufacturer, installer, or owner of the Small Wind Energy System may be attached.

(i) Electrical controls and control wiring and power-lines shall be wireless or underground.

(j) The tower of a Small Wind Energy System shall be designed so as to prohibit step bolts or a ladder readily accessible to the public for a minimum height of 10 feet above the ground.

(k) The height of a Small Wind Energy System shall not exceed a maximum height of 85 feet, if located on a lot or parcel less than one acre in size; or a maximum height of 150 feet, if located on a lot or parcel one acre in size or greater.

(l) The tower of a Small Wind Energy System shall be set back a distance equal to its total height, which is a one to one (1:1) ratio between height and setback, from all property lines and any overhead utility lines. A variance or an agreement in recordable form signed by the adjoining property owner(s) must be obtained in order to reduce this required setback from property lines. Total height means the vertical distance from ground level to the tip of a wind generator blade when the tip is at its highest point.

(m) The blade tip of any wind turbine shall, at its lowest point, have ground clearance of no less than fifteen (15) feet, as measured at the lowest point of the arc of the blades.

(n) One Small Wind Energy System shall be permitted on a site.

(o) Any small wind energy system found to be abandoned or unsafe by the Building Code Official shall be repaired or removed by the landowner. A small wind energy system that fails to operate or is out of service for a continuous 12-month period shall be deemed to be abandoned.

In Chapter 90 "Definitions" add the following terms and definitions:

Small Wind Energy System. A single-tower wind energy conversion system that is used to generate electricity; has a rated capacity (as defined by the manufacturer) of 100 kilowatts (kW) or less; has a total height of 85 feet or less, if located on a lot or parcel less than one acre in size; or a total height of 150 feet or less, if located on a lot or parcel one acre in size or greater, including the tower and blades; and consists of a wind turbine, tower, base and associated control or conversion electronics.

Wind Energy System. A wind energy system is the equipment that converts and then stores or transfers energy from the wind into usable forms of energy. This equipment includes any base, blade, foundation, generator, nacelle (enclosure housing the engine), rotor, tower, transformer, vane, wire, inverter, batteries, guy wire, or other component used in the system.

Wind Generator. A wind generator consists of the blades and associated mechanical and electrical conversion components mounted on top of the tower.

Small Wind Energy System Tower: A monopole, lattice, or guy-wired structure that supports a wind generator.

BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED, by the Board of County Commissioners that, in the event any portion of the St. Mary's County Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, is found to be unconstitutional, illegal, null or void, it is the intent of the Board of County Commissioners to sever only the invalid portion or provision, and that the remainder of the Ordinance shall be enforceable and valid.

BE IT FUTHER ORDAINED, by the Board of County Commissioners that the foregoing recitals are adopted as if fully rewritten herein.

BE IT FUTHER ORDAINED, by the Board of County Commissioners that this enactment shall be effective on the date written below.

Effective date: December 26, 2008

BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
ST. MARY'S COUNTY, MARYLAND

Francis Jack Russell, President
Kenneth R. Dement, Commissioner
Lawrence D. Jarboe, Commissioner
Thomas A. Mattingly, Sr. Commissioner
Daniel H. Raley, Commissioner

ATTEST:
John Savich
County Administrator

APPROVED AS TO FORM AND
LEGAL SUFFICIENCY:

Christy Holt Chesser
County Attorney

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