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County Commission Communications
A Periodic Column Written by Ed Douglas, Presiding Commissioner

September, 2023

In several counties near us, wind turbines have stirred up considerable controversy. Owners of properties that sign long- term leases for sizeable amounts are pro wind turbines as are taxing entities that receive sizeable increases in property tax revenues. However, land owners adjacent to properties with wind turbines have significant concerns. These include shadows, sounds, lights, health issues, aesthetics, and reductions in property values.

It is my understanding that previously companies interested in building wind farms did not believe Livingston County had strong enough capacity. However, that could change with changes in technology, transmission and storage.

Our Commission does not anticipate wind turbines immediately coming into our county but thought we should get ahead of the issue by establishing regulations that protect the various parties of interest in the county.

Our county lawyer researched in great detail what other counties have done on this matter and prepared a draft document of recommendations. Part of this draft also covers potential solar farm regulations. This draft will go to our Planning Commission for review and recommendations. The County Commission will then consider the draft regulations for adoption.

This wind and solar regulations cover the locations in the county that would become eligible for renewable energy facilities. Additionally, there are requirements for necessary setbacks from other buildings and landowners, the maximum height of various towers, requirements to repair and maintain roads that are effected by the construction, financial assurances that when facilities are no longer operational there are funds available to remove them, as well as requirements for lights that only flash when planes approach.

The regulations will not prohibit wind turbines or solar facilities. However, they balance the rights of land owners which receive leases with the interests of others in the community. That is what the regulations are intended to do, and we believe they accomplish that for us.

Solar farms are not currently as controversial, but there are also protections that we put in this policy that relate to what parts of the county are eligible for a solar farm within our zoning policy as well as protections from battery fires that can become a safety and property protection issue.

The Commission will consider these regulations at our meeting on September 21. We hope this puts us in front of an issue that may or may not come our way in the foreseeable future. If you have questions, feel free to contact us.

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