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Johnson County, IA (Wind)

Summary Only

For full ordinance text, please find pdf below or visit county website.

Date Passed/Amended: 2020

Summary Written: April 29, 2022

Agricultural Use Table:

Eligible Zoning:
a) Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

a. Agricultural District (A)
b. Solid Waste Disposal and Resource Reclamation District (SWDRR)
c. Public Zoning District (P)

Prohibition Language:

Required Information/Permits Required:
a) Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

a. A Conditional Use Permit is required.
b. In the application, the following items are to be provided:

i. A narrative description of the proposed CWECS, including an overview of the project, project location, the approximate generating capacity of the CWECS, the approximate number of towers, tower types, tower height or range of heights, tower generating capacities, tower dimensions and respective manufacturers and a description of ancillary facilities.
ii. An affidavit or similar evidence of agreement between the participating landowner and the CWECS owner/operator demonstrating that the owner/operator has the permission of the participating landowner to apply for necessary permits for construction and operation of the CWECS.
iii. Identification of the properties on which the proposed CWECS will be located. And the properties within one thousand (1,000) feet of where the CWECS will be located.
iv. A Site Plan that shows the planned location of each turbine, property lines and occupied buildings within the CWECS and within one thousand (1,000) feet of the CWECS, public and private roads and trails, and setback distances for each turbine and associated equipment from property lines, occupied buildings, public and private roads and trails.
v. All associated equipment and infrastructure to include access roads, turnout locations, substations, electrical cabling from the CWECS to the substations, ancillary equipment, buildings and structures, including permanent meteorological towers and associated transmission lines.
vi. Location and type of warning devices as required.
vii. Documents related to decommissioning as required by the Zoning Administrator or Board of Adjustment.
viii. Any relevant studies, reports, certifications and approvals as may be reasonably requested by the Zoning Administrator or the Board of Adjustment to include any reports as necessary for storm water management, soil erosion control, or preservation of sensitive areas.

Request for Variance:

Site and Structure Requirements:
a) Compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations:

a. Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

i. The design of the CWECS shall conform to applicable industry standards, including those of the American National Standards Institute. The applicant shall submit certificates of design compliance obtained by the equipment manufacturers from Underwriters Laboratories, Det Norske Veritas, Germanishcer Lloyd Wind Energies or other certifying organizations determined as acceptable by the Board of Adjustment.

b) Concentrating Solar Power Facilities:

c) Fencing/Security:

a. Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

i. Visible, reflective, colored objects, such as flags, reflectors or tape shall be placed on the anchor points of guy wires and along the guy wires up to a height of ten (10) feet from the ground.
ii. Wind turbines shall not be climbable up to fifteen (15) feet above ground surface.
iii. All access doors to the wind turbines and electrical equipment shall be locked or fenced, as appropriate, to prevent entry by unauthorized persons.

d) Glare minimization:

a. Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

i. Wind turbines shall be a non-obtrusive color such as white, off white or gray.
ii. The owner/operator shall make reasonable efforts to minimize shadow flicker to any occupied building on a non-participating landowner’s property, both through the initial design of the CWECS and as the result of any shadow flicker complaints occurring after the CWECS is operational.
iii. A shadow flicker mitigation plan shall be submitted with the application, outlining steps that will be taken to so minimize shadow flicker.
iv. Reasonable efforts shall include but no be limited to the use of computer modeling to identify optimum location and orientation of each turbine and programs to ensure turbine blades do not rotate during times when shadow flicker may adversely affect non-participating landowner’s property.
v. Non-participating landowners may waive, in whole or in part, the noise regulation requirements and shadow flicker requirements by signing a waiver that sets forth the applicable noise provisions and the proposed changes.
vi. Any such waiver shall be recorded in the County Recorder’s Office.
vii. The waiver shall describe the properties benefited and burdened and advise all subsequent purchasers of the burdened property that the waiver of noise regulation requirements and shadow flicker requirements shall run with the land and may forever burden the subject property.

e) Height:

a. Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

i. CWECS are exempt from height regulations.

f) Lighting:

a. Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

i. CWECS shall not be artificially lighted, except to the extent required by the FAA or other applicable authority that regulates air safety.

g) Minimum Lot Size:

h) Noise:

a. Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

i. CWECS shall not exceed forty five (45) decibels, as measured at the exterior of any occupied building on a non-participating landowner’s property.
ii. Methods for measuring and reporting acoustic emissions from the CWECS shall be equal to or exceed the minimum standards for precision described in AWEA Standards

i) Outside storage:

j) Setbacks and Lot Coverage:

a. Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

i. Wind turbines shall be set back from the nearest occupied building of a participating landowner a distance of one hundred and ten (110) percent of the turbine height. The set back distance shall be measured from the center of the turbine base to the nearest point on the foundation of the occupied building.
ii. Wind turbines shall be set back from the nearest occupied building located on a non-participating landowner’s property a distance of not less than on thousand (1,000) feet or on hundred and ten (110) percent of the turbine height, whichever is greater. The set back distance shall be measured from the center of the turbine base to the nearest point on the foundation of the occupied building.
iii. All wind turbines shall be set back from the right-of way of all public and private roads a distance of 1.1 times the turbine height. The set back distance shall be measured from the center of the turbine base to the nearest point on the property line or right-of way.
iv. Wind turbines shall be set back from all property lines of participating landowners a distance of 1.1 times the turbine height. The set back distance shall be measured from the center of the turbine base to the nearest point on the property line or right-of way line.
v. Wind turbines shall be set back from all property lines of non-participating landowners a distance of five hundred (500) feet or one hundred and ten (110) percent of the turbine height, whichever is greater. The set back distance shall be measured from the center of the turbine base to the nearest point on the property line or to the nearest point on the foundation of the occupied building.
vi. Non-participating landowners may waive the set back requirements by signing a waiver that sets forth the applicable set back provisions and the proposed changes.

1. The written waiver shall notify the non-participating landowners of the set backs required by the County, describe how the proposed CWECS is not in compliance and state that consent is granted for the CWECS to not be set back as required as shown on the Site Plan submitted with the permit application.
2. Any such waiver shall be recorded in the County Recorder’s Office and describe the properties benefited and burdened and advise all subsequent purchasers of the burdened property that the waiver of set back shall run with the land and may forever burden the subject property.
3. Upon application, the Board of Adjustment may waive the set back requirement for public roads for good cause.

k) Screening:

l) Signage:

a. Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

i. All signage on the wind turbines shall comply with County sign regulations.
ii. A clearly visible warning sign concerning voltage must be placed at the base of all pad-mounted transformers, substations and wind turbines.
iii. Any and all warning signs as required by local, state and federal regulations.

m) Site Access/Emergency Response:

a. Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

i. Applicant shall provide a copy of the project summary and Site Plan to local emergency service providers, including paid or volunteer fire departments.
ii. The applicant shall cooperate with emergency service providers to develop and coordinate implementation of an emergency response plan for the CWECS.

n) Utility Connections:

o) Waste:

Operation and Maintenance Plan:

a) Monitoring and Maintenance:

b) Soil and Erosion and Sediment Control:

Decommissioning and Site Reclamation:
a) Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (CWECS)

a. A Decommissioning Plan shall be submitted with the application. The Plan shall include removal of turbines, buildings, cabling, electrical components, roads, foundations to a depth of sixty (60) inches and any other associated facilities as determined by the Zoning Administrator.
b. The owner/operator shall, at its expense, complete decommissioning of the CWECS, or individual turbines, within twelve (12) months after the end of the useful life of the CWECS or turbines.
c. The CWECS or individual turbines will be considered at the end of its useful life if no electricity is generated for a continuous period of six (6) months unless the owner/operator is granted an extension by the Board of Adjustment.
d. Disturbed earth resulting from decommissioning of any CWECS or turbine shall be returned to its pre-construction state, unless the participating landowner requests inwriting that the access roads or other land surface are not be restored.
e. An independent licensed engineer shall be retained to estimate the total cost of decommissioning the CWECS and said estimates shall be submitted to the Zoning Administrator with the initial application and every fifth (5) year thereafter.

i. The owner/operator shall post and maintain Decommissioning Funds in an amount equal to the total estimated Decommissioning Costs. Prior to any grading or construction fifty (50) percent of the total estimated costs shall be provided. A minimum of twelve and one half (12.5) percent of the total estimated costs shall be posted to the fund every year for the next four (4) years until one hundred (100) percent of the current total estimated costs are deposited.
ii. Decommissioning Funds shall be maintained in the form of cash, certificate of deposit, performance bond, escrow account, surety bond, letter of credit, corporate guarantee or other form of financial assurance as agreed to by the Zoning Administrator. Any financial document evidencing the maintenance of the decommissioning funds shall include provisions for releasing the funds to the County in the event decommissioning is not completed in a timely manner.

f. If the owner/operator does not complete decommissioning within the periods described, then the fund agent shall release the funds to the County and the Zoning Administrator shall take necessary measures to complete decommissioning. The funds will be released after a thirty (30) day written notice is provided to the fund agent indicating the decommissioning has not occurred within the applicable time period.
g. The fund agent shall release the funds to the owner/operator, as applicable, when it has been demonstrated, and the Zoning Administrator concurs, that decommissioning has been satisfactorily completed or upon written approval for the Zoning Administrator to continue the decommissioning plan and complete decommissioning.

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