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Wind Turbine Gets Planning Commission Approval



The Archbold Planning Commission gave its approval to a wind turbine for the Archbold Area School District at a Monday night, Aug. 23 meeting.

The commission, which had not met since November 2008, recommended granting a conditional use permit for a 600 kilowatt (kW) to 750 kW wind turbine.

It is to be built at the northwest corner of the parking lot due south of the Archbold High School Football stadium, south of the concession stand.

Aaron Godwin, founder of the Renaissance Group, the consulting firm working with the Archbold and Pettisville school districts, said the exact size of the turbine the school would install has not been decided.

The biggest that would be built would be 246 feet from the ground to the hub of the turbine blades. At the highest point in their rotation, the tips of the blades will be 334 feet above the ground.

The Archbold zoning code calls for a fall zone 1.25 times larger than the tallest part of the turbine. In the case of the biggest possible wind turbine, that figure would be 419 feet.

The zoning code calls for the fall zone to be clear of occupied structures such as residences and road right-ofways, among other things.

The nearest home, in Colony Meadows, is 988 feet away. The high school is 521 feet away.

However, the planned Lafayette Street extension is 350 feet away from the turbine, which is within the 1.25 fall zone. The commission accepted this variance as part of the conditional use permit.

Several other sites on school property were considered, but the site southwest of the stadium was selected as the best.

S-1 Zoning

The elementary and high schools are zoned S-1, or special use. A wind turbine is allowed in an S-1 district, but only as a conditional use.

The planning commission must recommend the conditional use, but it is Archbold Village Council that must grant final approval.

The conditional use permit request must be advertised for 30 days prior to council’s consideration. Council won’t consider the conditional use permit until October.

In the meantime, Archbold School Board is set to make its final go, no-go decision at the Monday, Sept. 13 meeting. The meeting, set for 7:30 pm, is in the high school media center.

Due Diligence

As the result of federal Environmental Protection Agency requirements, The Renaissance Group conducted extensive studies.

The studies looked into the noise the turbine would generate, shadows and the “flickering” of the rotating blades casting shadows, visual impact of the turbine, and the possibility of bird kills.

Godwin said Renaissance Group workers conducted sound measurements at several points in Archbold. The results showed the village’s “ambient” or average noise level between 40 and 80 decibels (db).

The wind turbine, he said, will generate about 40 to 50 db. Village zoning code calls for noise levels of no more than 60 db at any property line, or 50 db at any residential property line. Godwin said the turbine would be well below those requirements.

Tony Warncke, school board member, asked if the turbine noise would be “additive,” overcoming background noise. Godwin said measuring noise levels is very complex, but it would not be additive.

Flicker

A study of the shadows the turbine would cast showed the “flicker” of the rotating blades could be seen from the baseball diamonds at Memorial Park.

Godwin said if flicker proves to be objectionable, the turbine can be shut off any number of ways, including by cell phone.

If ice builds on the turbine blades, sensors in the blades will recognize the problem, and the turbine will stop to prevent it from “flinging” ice.

In a study of the visual impact of the turbine, Godwin said most places in the vil- lage won’t be able to see it. The view will be blocked by buildings, trees, etc.

Studies were conducted up to two miles away, and the turbine can be seen, but would appear very small.

For example, Godwin predicts the turbine could be seen from places at the Sauder Heritage Inn parking lot.

Godwin said wind turbines account for about 10,000 to 40,000 bird deaths a year, but birds striking vehicles are responsible for 60 million to 80 million bird deaths a year, and cats are believed to claim 100 million birds a year.

Easement

The proposed location for the wind turbine is just a few feet east of farmland owned by Bruce and JoAnne Rupp, rural Archbold.

A letter from the couple states they have no objection to placing the turbine adjacent to their property.

“We are in favor of the wind project, and excited to see it get underway as soon as possible,” the letter states.

An easement for the fall zone will have to be drafted.

Ed Leininger, commission member, asked what would happen if the Rupp land were sold for development.

Dennis Howell, Archbold village administrator, said if the land is within the village limits when it is developed, houses could not be built within the fall zone.

If the property is outside the village, it would come under the jurisdiction of the German Township Trustees.

In addition to Warncke, Phil Nofziger and Scott Miller, school board members; David Deskins, district superintendent, and Andy Brodbeck and Tom Warner, of Archbold Evangelical Church, attended.

Also attending were Bruce Rupp and Kriss Julliard, a neighbor to the project.


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