Renewable Energy Ordinance Sought For Berlin Code

BERLIN – Work has begun
on a renewable energy ordinance for the town of Berlin, with draft regulations
under discussion this week at the Berlin Planning Commission meeting.

“We really don’t have
anything in the code at all,” said Planning and Zoning Director Chuck Ward
Wednesday night at the meeting.

Ward said he looked at
over a dozen renewable energy ordinances, both locally and as far away as
Michigan before drafting an ordinance for Berlin.

One concern raised over
roof-mounted wind turbines can be solved with the right setbacks.

“You have to look at the
safety issue if it comes down,” Ward said.

Some ordinances call for
a setback one and a half to two times the height of the top blade on the
turbine, but Ward felt that was too limiting. He suggested a setback equal to
the height of the top turbine blade instead.

“If it fell, it wouldn’t
be on the adjoining lot,” Ward said.

Flicker-type shadowing
is also a concern because it could become very disturbing to the neighbors,
Ward said. That can be handled through placing the turbine in the right place
on the property.

“Solar was pretty simple
‘til we got to thinking about ground mounted systems,” said Ward.

There is a chance that
glare from the solar panels could disturb neighbors, Ward said. Most solar
panels are expected to be on roofs, however, and ground systems would have to
be placed in the right spot.

Solar panels and wind
turbines need to be installed so the height and pitch of the house roof remains
the same. Otherwise, Ward said, “It creates an abnormal look.”

The ordinance would also
create an approval process for renewable energy installations in town.

Commission member Pete
Cosby suggested making renewable energy devices subject to planning review,
instead of simply a permit from staff or a direct request to the Board of
Zoning Appeals.

“I think we ought to
keep it at the Planning Commission level,” Cosby said.

Property owners would
have to request a special exception, said Cosby. Those property owners who
disagree with the commission’s decision can then appeal to the Board of Zoning


Ward said he would bring
a revised draft back to the Planning Commission at the next meeting.