After the 2011 storms caused widespread power outages throughout the township, many of which lasted for days at a time, the township was inundated with requests from residents to put up permanent generators—and now the township is looking to make that process easier.
The council unanimously introduced an ordinance Thursday that creates a section of code dealing specifically with installing generators to avoid forcing residents to go before the zoning board with their requests.
“There is nowhere in the existing code that deals with generators directly,” said township administrator James Naples. “We were inundated with requests for permanent generators in the event of losing power.”
“This [ordinance] makes it easier on the residents if they want to have standby generation capability,” he added.
The ordinance states that any permanent generators cannot be placed in the front yard of a property, and the setback from a property line should be at least 5 feet.
Township councilman Howard Norgalis said he thought that was a little short.
“The 5 feet is pretty close,” he said.
But, Naples said, it makes sense for the kinds of circumstances that require the use of the generators.
“The theory is that this is not going to be an every day event,” he said. “It could really only be running 24/7 in an emergency.”
And township engineer Robert Bogart said the noise ordinance also takes this into account because the generator cannot exceed the requirements in the noise ordinance.
“The less expensive permanent generators can be pretty noisy,” Norgalis said. “We would have to look at the documentation first because we can’t install first and then test it and say it’s too loud.”
Township attorney William Savo said the thought was that the need for these generators is so infrequent anyway.
“We hope people would be sympathetic if their neighbor didn’t have power,” he said. “Before this ordinance, residents had to go to the zoning board, which is an expensive process.”
But of course, Savo said, if the proposed generator does not fit in with the ordinance, then the resident will have to go before the zoning board anyway. This ordinance, though, is expected to aid in allowing residents to put up the generators for help in emergencies like those that occurred in 2011, without having to pay for a zoning board hearing.
As for other requirements in the ordinance, it says the generator should only be used during electrical power outages.
The public hearing for the ordinance will be held Sept. 20.