Howard councilman wants to ease approval for wind turbines

Proposal would relax zoning restrictions for residential, commercial structures

March 05, 2010|By Larry Carson | | Baltimore Sun reporter

A Howard County councilman wants to ease zoning approval for small residential and commercial wind turbines by expanding the variety of land use zones that allow them.

There are currently two wind turbines in the county. One sits outside a recently opened Ellicott City apartment house for limited income renters that was built for the county's Housing Commission. A second is on a farm in western county, according to Joshua Feldmark, director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability in the Ulman administration.

Feldmark said the administration expects to support the proposal by East Columbia Democrat Calvin Ball, who feels it's time to begin discussing having more turbines. Howard law doesn't currently spell out where they may be built.

"I wanted to think of innovative ways to cut down on dependency on other sources of energy," he said. His proposed zoning regulation amendment lists a wide range of county zoning categories where turbines could be installed, limited by setback and height restrictions. The idea must be publicly reviewed by the county planning board and then by the county council before anything can change.

"Increasingly, people are looking for opportunities," Ball said, adding that he's been working on introducing the resolution for several years, and feels the technology has improved enough to make small free-standing or roof-mounted turbines feasible.

Frederick and Carroll counties already allow wind turbines in all zones. But attempts to erect turbines have met resistance in other places.

A Federal Hill woman's proposal to mount one on her rowhouse roof was defeated, and Baltimore County Council members have criticized a pending proposal to allow one 60-foot high pole per acre by right, rather than by special zoning exception, which is the current practice.

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