No jurisdiction: Wapak reviews alternative energy regulations
Wapakoneta city officials plan to continue to refine rules regarding wind turbines and solar panels within the city limits in the next few months, but they have no plans to take a new stance on a proposed wind farm north of the city.
During Monday’s Wapakoneta City Council meeting, 2nd Ward Councilor Dan Lee updated his fellow councilors on progress made by the committee he chairs regarding zoning and building codes for wind turbines and solar energy in the city. After the meeting, he also weighed in on the proposal to construct 450-tall wind turbines on property north of the city.
“As city councilors, this is outside of our jurisdiction so there is no position to really be taken on this issue,” Lee told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “It doesn’t affect our citizens and it doesn’t affect us as a legislative body.
“I appreciate that people are passionate one way or another on the issue,” he said, “but the city does not have a stance on those turbines that are proposed.”
Mayor Rodney Metz supports Lee’s and the official council stance on the issue.
“It does not affect us at all legislatively or administratively here in the city because they are not within the corporation limits,” Metz said. “This is an issue between the people living in the country and their own township trustees.”
The mayor said township trustees have inquired about the city’s zoning and the identity of the city’s consultant regarding wind turbines.
If homeowners within the city corporation limits on the northern edge of the city can see the wind turbines on the horizon, Metz said city councilors cannot limit or restrict their construction through legislation because it is outside their jurisdiction.
“I am firm believer in property rights,” Metz said. “But I think this is an issue between the individual property owners and the governing authority of the area — which in this case our the respective township trustees.”
The mayor said city residents objecting to the view would likely have to file a civil suit.
In regard to the rules within the city, Lee said he called a Lands and Buildings Committee meeting in late March to review documentation and legislation for city ordinances proposed approximately a year ago regarding wind turbines and solar panel placement within the city corporation limits.
Committee members agreed to make minor corrections to the proposed legislation and to include ANSI (American National Standards Institute) language. Lee explained this is to make sure the city’s ordinance reflects national standards and the legislation would change as ANSI standards evolved.
“The legislation will be very restrictive on what we are going to allow inside the city limits in regard to wind turbines and solar units,” Lee said. “It is very detailed on where you are allowed to place a unit and where you are not allowed to place a unit especially in respect to how it affects your neighbor.”
He explained the legislation considers the neighbors regardless of the form of alternative energy a property owner may choose to install. For example, if the source of alternative energy casts a shadow or creates a flicker of light on a neighbor then it will likely be restricted.
“We thought it would be a good step to be proactive in regard to the installation of alternative energy sources inside the city limits,” Lee said. “We also took into consideration if a unit produces more energy than a household uses and what legislation would be needed to meter that energy and if they produce enough energy to kick it back into our system would there be payment for that.”