Green energy code: Wind, solar bill hits councilors’ desks

An attempt to build a 125-foot wind turbine last year in the city prompted Wapakoneta City Council members to review city ordinances and building codes to best deal with renewable energy sources, or green energy.

Now more than a year’s worth of work by council’s Lands and Buildings Committee members is before councilors for their approval. During Monday’s council meeting, councilors heard the first of three readings of two pieces of legislation aimed to help residents know what is acceptable and what is not.

“I think these two ordinances will help the citizens of Wapakoneta know the proper way to ‘get green’ and allow them to do it with confidence because they know they are within a set of guideline,” 2nd Ward Councilor Dan Lee told the Wapakoneta Daily News after the meeting. “We are just giving helpful rules so that they can be friendly to their neighbors while they can still be able to ‘get green’ and know they are doing it the right way.

“If they are not doing it the right way it can affect the whole neighborhood,”  the Lands and Buildings Committee chair said. “We want to help them.”

The first ordinance deals specifically with wind turbines and wind energy systems. The ordinance notes city leaders are aware wind energy systems may be appropriate in carefully controlled situations. The ordinance deals with fall zones, sound levels, shadow flicker and signage.

The second ordinance deals specifically with solar panel systems. The ordinance explains the purpose of the legislation and site plan.

Lee explained residents or business owners hoping to install a wind turbine or solar device must receive approval from the city’s Engineering Department. If they want to or need to go beyond the building code’s requirements, they would have to present their case to the Wapakoneta City Zoning Board of Appeals.

The two ordinances resulted from the work of Lee and the Lands and Buildings Committee members as well as 3rd Ward Councilor Bonnie Wurst, who previously chaired the committee.

“We realized that we had not addressed those alternative energy issues when a request was made to put a wind turbine downtown in the business district,” Wurst said, referring to a request made by John Mc-Cormick in December 2010. “We knew then we needed to start working on an ordinance to address this (green energy) since it is the up-and-coming thing.”

She said city councilors consulted with Cincinnati-based Jacobs Engineering and reviewed ordinances and legislation from several other cities. Through those consultations, Wurst said is the reason for a lengthy stated purpose for the legislation.

Lee explained language his committee members have added including reflecting national and state standards, which means the city ordinance will change with the national legislation.

Lee said residents will be able to use vertical wind turbines or to utilize solar shingles. One regulation for example is no renewable energy measure can exceed the highest point of the roof.

“There will still be the ability to install green energy measures, we are just making sure these means are friendly to neighbors,” Lee said. “We want to make sure your desire to be green doesn’t adversely affect your neighbors.”