Preliminary Regulatory Analysis

This list can be used as a checklist when carrying out a preliminary inquiry into local permitting requirements to identify whether or not these typical permits apply to a project.

As indicated above, it is important to distinguish between permitting requirements for a meteorological tower and the actual wind turbines and equipment comprising an operational wind energy project. Often a meteorological tower can be permitted as a temporary structure, an accessory or ancillary use to the existing use at the property, or a scientific device. Depending on the zoning regulation, a wind energy developer may seek to have the turbines deemed to be accessory or ancillary uses, especially if the landowner continues to use the underlying land for a viable use such as farming.

In some cases, the proposed location for a wind energy project is within or in close proximity to more than one municipality. Depending on state and local requirements, abutting communities may need to be notified of requests for zoning relief due to their potential interest in the proposed wind facility. For example, even if a project is located in only one town, it may be visible from another town. The developer should consult with local counsel with respect to the public

At a minimum, a wind energy developer should ask the following questions regarding local approvals:

S Is there a Comprehensive Plan or Master Plan for land use in the area? Does it include information regarding wind energy projects, renewable energy, or sustainability?

S Do the local zoning regulations provide for wind energy projects? If so:

• In which zoning district or districts are wind energy projects permitted?

• Is the wind energy project allowed as of right with no zoning approval required?

• Is a special permit, special exception or variance required for use of property as a wind energy project in the applicable zoning district?

• Will the wind energy project satisfy all dimensional requirements such as height and setbacks? If not, is a dimensional variance available? What are the applicable standards for such zoning relief? What is the likelihood of obtaining relief?

• Does one entity, such as a planning board, provide an advisory recommendation to a second entity, such as a zoning board, where zoning relief is required?

• Are there any relevant overlay districts that might impact the ability to site the wind energy project (e.g., Groundwater Protection Overlay District that would restrict the ability to install foundations at certain depths)?

• Are the standards relaxed if the wind energy project is deemed to be a public utility project?

• Is development plan review or site plan review required?

• What are the landscaping or screening requirements?

• Do access roads need to comply with certain standards for construction of roads?

S Is there a local building code that regulates wind energy projects?

• Is a building permit required?

• Are electrical or other permits required?

S If the local zoning regulations or building code do not address wind energy projects, is there an opportunity for the developer to work with the community to enact or amend the zoning regulations to include provisions that are favorable to the development of wind energy projects?

S Is there a moratorium in place regarding wind energy projects? If so, is it possible to lift the moratorium?

S What provisions of the zoning regulations apply to a meteorological tower?

• Are there provisions for temporary uses? Scientific or research uses? Accessory or ancillary uses?

• If none, then what zoning relief is available (e.g., special permit, special exception, variance)? What are the standards for such zoning relief? What is the likelihood of obtaining such relief?

notification requirements. Failure to comply with all applicable public notification requirements could delay or prejudice the approval of the developer's applications for approval. !t js important t0

distinguish between

4.3.2 Pre-Application Process and Preliminary Design permitting requirements for a Once the applicable zoning and permitting requirements have meteorological tower and the actual been identified, it is useful for the wind energy developer to meet wind turbines and equipment with the municipal planning staff responsible for zoning and comprising an operational wind planning issues. It is helpful to prepare a draft application and energy project, preliminary plans to review with staff to identify issues and outstanding application requirements. Wind energy developers should consider working with local officials and residents to ensure that the issues important to the municipality and its residents are adequately addressed prior to the submission of an application for the necessary approvals. This process of cooperative consultation may involve modifying or creating a comprehensive plan that provides for wind energy, revising zoning regulations, or identifying the universe of potential wind energy facility sites within the municipality. After initial meetings with local officials, some developers will set up community meetings or open houses to educate the public about the project. Chapter 7 provides more details on public outreach.

During the pre-application process, the developer should anticipate questions of the following nature:

• Is another access road or route available that would have fewer impacts on the community?

• Can mitigation measures be taken to avoid potential conflict of adjacent uses?

• Could construction be limited to a certain time of the year to avoid noise impacts?

• Could the turbines be located differently to decrease visual impacts or minimize wetland impacts?

• Could the transmission line be moved to a different alignment?

• What types of traffic mitigation measures would be taken to minimize impacts?

• Will best management practices be implemented for stormwater?

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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