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Mason County Drafts Wind Energy Recommendations

Marla Toncray

Although Duke Energy Renewables and NextEra Energy Resources have withdrawn their intentions for wind turbines in Mason County, county officials and members of the Maysville-Mason County Joint Planning Commission are moving forward to establish some guidelines on any future wind energy projects.

On Wednesday (June 4), JPC members determined set back distances, site locations, sound restrictions and no waiver clauses that will be recommended to the Mason County Fiscal Court later this summer.

The first step of the process was to take a vote to determine if board members wanted an outright ban on large industrial wind turbines in the county.  Following discussion, three members voted in favor of an outright ban and four members voted against the ban.

Discussion held before the vote focused upon the fact if an outright ban were to be placed on wind turbines, the message to other, more appropriate industrial businesses may be that Mason County isn't open for business.

With that piece of business decided, board members agreed upon the following restrictions on large industrial wind turbines: turbines could only be located in areas of the county zoned rural industrial (I3); set back distances would be one mile, 5,280 feet, from property lines; property owners who sign agreements with wind energy companies would receive no waiver on the set back limitation; and sound levels would be restricted to 30 decibels or less.

Existing locations of rural industrial zones in the county are: on the western end of the county in Dover; at the western end of the city limits on Kentucky 8 near East Kentucky Power Cooperative; and in the eastern end of the county in Plumville near the Carmeuse Lime and Stone mine.

The recommendations, if adopted by county officials, would eliminate the threat of large industrial wind turbines of being located in agriculture zoned areas.

The no waiver clause means land owners who have, or might, sign leases with wind energy companies for placement of a large wind turbine, wouldn't be able to join the parcels together to get around the one mile set back.

The recommendations were based upon comments from the public during a public hearing held May 12 and in order to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the public.

The findings of Wednesday's (June 4) meeting will be put into an official document and presented for review at the next meeting of the JPC.  If approval of the findings is given, the recommendations will be forwarded to the Mason County Fiscal Court, who is responsible for creating and approving an ordinance regulating wind turbines.

The next meeting of the JPC on July 2 will also address recommendations on smaller and mid-size wind turbines in Mason County.

The Ledger Independent is online at: http://www.maysville-online.com