Program Madison County - Wind Energy Systems Ordinance
Category Regulatory Policy
Implementing sector Local
Last Update
State North Carolina
Sectors Residential

Madison County adopted a new land use ordinance in May 2010, which includes provisions for permitting wind turbines within the county.

For the purposes of this ordinance, wind-energy facilities are classified as "small" if they consist of one or more turbines with a rated generating capacity of 10 kilowatts (kW) or less, “medium” if a project has a rated capacity between 10 kW and 50 kW, and large if a project has a rated capacity of more than 50 kW. In general small wind energy facilities are treated as a conditional use in residential zones. As a conditional use, a small wind energy facility may be installed in the approved residential zoning districts if the Board of Adjustment finds that all requirements have been met. Small wind energy facilities are treated as a permitted use in most other zoning districts. Medium wind energy facilities are not permitted in most residential zoning districts, but are treated as a conditional use in most others. Large wind energy facilities are treated as a conditional use in the commercial and residential-agricultural zoning districts. A full break down of the permitting requirements for wind facilities in each zoning district can be found in the land use ordinance above.

The ordinance requires all wind energy facilities to be setback from property lines, public roads and occupied buildings on the wind turbine owner's property a distance equal to twice the height of the tower. They must also be setback a distance of 2.5 times the tower height from any occupied buildings on an adjacent parcel of land not owned by the wind turbine owner.

The ordinance also establishes restrictions to reduce noise and shadow flicker produced by large wind energy facilities. The ordinance does not establish similar restrictions for small and medium systems as these issues should be indirectly addressed by the setback requirements and existing noise ordinances. Requirements for the installation, design and decommissioning of systems are also addressed in the ordinance.

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