Howard councilman seeks to ease zoning approval for wind turbines

Proposal would expand range of zones that allow them

March 06, 2010|By Larry Carson | larry.carson@baltsun.com

A Howard County councilman wants to ease zoning approval for small residential and commercial wind turbines.

There are now two wind turbines in the county. One is 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 the western part of the county, according to Joshua Feldmark, director of the county's Office of Environmental Sustainability.

Feldmark said County Executive Ken Ulman expects to support the proposal by Councilman Calvin Ball, an East Columbia Democrat.

"I wanted to think of innovative ways to cut down on dependency on other sources of energy," Ball said. His zoning amendment lists a range of county zoning categories where turbines could be installed, subject to setback and height restrictions.

The idea must be reviewed publicly by the county planning board and then by the County Council.

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

Frederick and Carroll counties allow wind turbines in all zones. In Howard County, zoning laws do not spell out where turbines can be built.

Attempts to erect turbines have met resistance in other places.

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

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