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Recommended turbine ordinance would prevent windmill at East Ridge

Proposed alternative energy regulations for Woodbury permit limited use of wind turbines.

That is a key provision in a draft alternative energy ordinance Woodbury Planning Commission members approved 6-0 Tuesday after months of review and public input.

"What it does is it encourages alternative energy, but it also does not interfere with people's personal property rights," commission chairwoman Nancy Remakel said.

The ordinance would allow wind turbines with heights from 60 feet to 120 feet, under specific conditions, in certain residential, business and light industrial zoning districts. The effect is to mainly limit the energy system's use to rural and nonresidential areas.

"It's really just a small step, but that's what we're interested in doing at this point," Woodbury senior planner Melissa Douglas said.

The commission created the draft ordinance after District 833 expressed interest in installing a wind turbine at East Ridge High School.

The draft ordinance does not permit the type of "utility scale" wind turbine - with a height of up to 190 feet - considered for East Ridge.

Woodbury officials will study the use of utility scale wind turbines in other Twin Cities-area communities before considering whether to permit those in Woodbury, Douglas said.

The draft ordinance also outlines use of solar energy systems and ground source heat pump systems, also known as geothermal systems. Both would be allowed in all city zoning districts, although there are permitting and installation requirements. Homeowner associations still could prohibit solar energy systems, a practice the city earlier had considered trying to ban.

A public hearing on the draft ordinance is scheduled for the Oct. 14 Woodbury City Council meeting. The council could vote on the ordinance that night.