Ohio Senator Cliff Hite doesn’t understand the purpose of zoning, with new legislation

In a Press Conference held near the Hog Creek wind project site near Dunkirk in Hardin County, Sen. Cliff Hite announced his introduction of Senate Bill 188 to reduce setbacks for industrial wind facilities.   It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing nor has it been referred to a Committee.  The bill has 14 co-sponsors, all of whom are Republican except for Sen. Joe Schiavoni who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor.  Three co-sponsors are members of the Senate Leadership and 4 serve on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee while two sit on the Public Utilities Committee.  Most of the sponsors will never be affected by a wind facility.  Sen. Randy Gardener of Bowling Green is likely the only exception.  Gardener represents Erie, Fulton (part), Lucas (part), Ottawa and Wood Counties and he is not eligible to run again.  

Hite also claims that he has resolutions passed in Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky and Seneca counties in support of his language but it is unclear exactly what entities passed such resolutions. It could be County Commissioners, Township Trustees, the Farm Bureau or the local branches of the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund or Friends of Al Gore. 

In announcing his bill, Hite said “”It just moves it a little bit into what some people wanted who were against these projects – more safety room – but it doesn’t hinder people who want to do these projects,” Sen. Hite said. “So it was a really nice compromise.”    Of course this is laughable.  The issue continues to be the unwanted appropriation of private property by wind developers.   Hite wants to give land that he doesn’t own away to the wind industry for free.   But as the people who are impacted by the trespass of wind turbine nuisance effects onto their land, there is fierce resistance.  People living in and near the footprint of the Blue Creek project in Van Wert are the poster children for these harmful effects. 

Despite all of this, Hite said in his press conference today that ““People don’t want a monstrosity blocking their sunset. I don’t know what to say about that,” Hite said. But he said the setback rules interfere with the right of property owners to decide how to best use their land.”   Message to Cliff: That is what zoning is all about – separating incompatible land uses and protecting neighboring properties from the intrusion of nuisance.

We remind our readers that turbine size continues to increase while SB 188 proposes to cut setbacks in half.  In fact, the bill enables projects that were certified prior to 2014 to retain their 750 foot setback from a property line even the project is or was subsequently amended.  Below are illustrations of how turbines have increased in size over time as well as a sample of what some setbacks look like.  This past Tuesday, G.E. introduced its newest onshore model. “The new 4.8 MW turbine is equipped with a 158-meter rotor and a range of tip heights up to 240 meters”   Consider that 240 meters is 787 feet.   First Nordex announced a new taller model and now G.E.   The G.E. blade is 77 meters long  which is 252 feet long.   These longer blades cannot help but vibrate and emit low frequency noise.  

It is notable that while Hite is busy trying to legalize theft of private property rights, Germany’s largest state is working “to implement a distance rule of 1,500 metres ( about 5,000 feet or a mile) to pure and general residential areas,” the two parties say in a 125-page-long coalition agreement, arguing such a rule would help maintain the acceptance for wind energy among the population.”   Back in the U.S. a turbine fire in Wyoming has burned more than 1,500 acres.

As we approach Halloween, the wind industry, the Ohio Senate and Cliff Hite just get scarier.   A new task force  has been created in the House and it will be chaired by Rep. Bill Seitz.   When the Senate gets through with SB 188, it might go to this Ad Hoc Energy Panel for review.   According to one report, “The task force forms at a time when several controversial energy-related bills are pending in either chamber, including proposals to render renewable energy standards unenforceable goals (HB 114) ); subsidize both nuclear plants (SB 128 & HB 178)  and costs for Ohio Valley Electric Corporation owners (SB 155 & HB 239); regulate submetering (HB 249 & SB 157); and reduce wind setbacks.”  …

Statehouse News  September 14, 2017

Lawmaker Unveils ‘Sensible Compromise’ Bill On Wind Turbine Setbacks

 Sen. Cliff Hite on Thursday announced a bill to loosen wind setback requirements and predicted a “groundswell” of support from House Republicans who earlier this year sidelined his budget proposal on the issue.

The Findlay Republican made the announcement at the Hog Creek Wind Farm site in Dunkirk alongside local business leaders, saying the bill (SB 188) will strengthen Ohio businesses and land more revenue in the coffers of local governments and schools.

“It just moves it a little bit into what some people wanted who were against these projects – more safety room – but it doesn’t hinder people who want to do these projects,” Sen. Hite said. “So it was a really nice compromise.”

The lawmaker from the wind-rich 1st Senate District has long pushed for walking back 2014 legislation that critics contend stalled wind farm development. His most recent effort – the budget amendment – was nixed by House Republicans in the closing days of budget talks.

The sponsor said 14 Republican senators have already signed onto the legislation as cosponsors and that he’s making progress enlisting support from the House. He predicted a continued “groundswell of support” from House Republicans and said the Democratic Party shouldn’t have a monopoly on pro-renewable energy views.

“What astonishes me is why one political party – and not mine – seems to have a corner market on these types of projects,” he said. “I think this is a Republican idea. I think this is a conservative idea.”

The bill would increase the setback to a minimum of one and two-tenths times the total height of the turbine compared to the currently required one and one-tenth requirement. But it would decrease overall setbacks by requiring a distance of at least 1,225 feet in horizontal distance from the exterior – rather than the property line as under current law – of the nearest, habitable residential structure.

The bill also seeks to strengthen public notification requirements, according to the latest draft language provided by Sen. Hite’s office. In doing so it would require developers to hold a public meeting no later than 90 days before filing an application and provide notice through publication in newspapers and through a letter to each property owner and tenant residing on property abutting the proposed wind farm.

In addition to spurring wind farm development, Sen. Hite said the bill would open up new markets to Ohio-based wind turbine manufacturers…

 

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