Wind farm plan sparks blowback in rural areas

Proposal for turbines between Sheboygan, Ozaukee counties sparks questions in Belgium
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

The Town of Belgium’s recent updates to its zoning and land division ordinances, measures designed in part to regulate solar energy projects, have triggered questions about a different kind of renewable energy this month.

Town resident Perry Handziak asked if the town could prevent wind farms or regulate where they are placed.

“That’s a really good question. We actually delayed adoption of this by one meeting just so we could look at the wind,” Zoning Administrator Charlie Parks said.

He said the town is aware of a possible project just north of the community that has stirred public opposition.

Compared to solar farms — which concerned the town after a large-scale project was approved in the Town of Holland — wind farm rules are different.

“The state laws on wind energy are a lot more prescriptive. They have spelled it out, where they can go. I’ve read through them, left and right,” Parks said.

They have to take into account nearby developments and homes, the flickering shadows and sound, he said.

“But the state has pretty much spelled out where those can be placed, and the town cannot put anything in our zoning ordinance that restricts that beyond that. We can put those same words in our ordinance but we can’t do local zoning that restricts those,” Parks said.

A Sheboygan County proposal by BluEarth Renewables based in Calgary, Canada, calls for 16 wind turbines to be installed on private land south of Sheboygan Falls that would extend into northern Ozaukee County, according to the company’s proposed construction filing with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The proposal area residents to form a group called Sheboygan Turbine Opposition, which is encouraging people to contact the company and legislators and local public officials to try to stop the project. It cites health concerns for people and animals.

When the turbines’ propellers are at their highest point, are 673 feet tall.

That, according to the opposition group’s website, is taller than the 400-feet-tall Acuity flag pole, Sheboygan’s 550-feet-tall power plant stacks and the wind turbines in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties, which max out at 397 feet. In comparison to skyscrapers, the U.S. Bank Center, the tallest building in Milwaukee, is 601 feet high.

The height of the pole that holds the propellers is 394 feet, according to the BluEarth Renewables proposed construction filing with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Handziak asked if the town would be vulnerable to wind turbine proposals or if current rules are strict enough to keep them out.

“They kind of have the big stick and we would have limited say,” Parks said.

With solar, he said, the town wants to be able to direct where projects can be placed to preserve the best farmland.

Small-scale wind energy units are allowed in any district, Parks said, but they require conditional use permits. Neighbors may discuss proposals at hearings, and the town sets the guidelines for the projects.

For more information on the opposition to the wind turbine proposal, visit sheboyganturbineopposition.godaddysites.com or a Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/460116085904966.

For more information on BluEarth Renewables, visit bluearthrenewables.com.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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