Committee suggests wind turbine ordinances

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

The city’s planning and zoning commission is recommending to the city commission an ordinance regulating residential wind turbines within city limits.

The Planning and Zoning Commission discussed the proposal Wednesday during its monthly meeting.

Commission member Tom Martin said during an October meeting the development of an ordinance was spurred by numerous inquiries Building and Safety department officials received regarding installation of residential wind turbines.

“I think it’s something we need to address whether someone builds it or not,” Martin said.

The commission started research for a potential ordinance in February.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Louis Gordon said inquiries have decreased because people are waiting for the outcome of the ordinance.

The ordinance includes regulation of tower height and design standards. The ordinance also requires a building permit to construct a wind energy system on residential property.

The ordinance also requires a buffer distance — from property lines, occupied structures, utility lines and public roads — of 1.1 feet for every foot of the structure’s height, according to City Attorney Dave Richards, who drafted the ordinance. The ordinance sets maximum height of 45 feet for towers constructed in residential zones, Richards said. Wind towers in industrial zones have a maximum height of 75 feet.

The ordinance will be introduced to the city commission during its next meeting, according to Gordon. If approved, the ordnance will be open for public input for 30 days before coming to the commission again for a final vote.

In other business, Municipal Judge Jan Garrett swore in Douglas Defoor to the planning and zoning commission.

A senior appraiser with the Farm Credit of New Mexico, Defoor was appointed to the planning and zoning commission by the city commission to serve out former commissioner Jake Madril’s term. Madril resigned for personal reasons.