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Ocean City family to put wind turbines on home

OCEAN CITY — A family has permission to install a set of energy-generating wind turbines on the roof of their Boardwalk home.

The set of three will comprise the first turbines on the roof of a single-family residence in Ocean City, and the Villa Santa family has been lobbying for permission to build them on top of their 14th Street house since 2011.

The Town Council gave its unanimous blessing for the Villa Santas to be permitted this week, after municipal Planning and Development Director Jesse Houston recommended approval of the project.

“They’ve been working on this a long time,” said Council President Jim Hall.

The approval comes with the caveat that the turbines must meet certain town requirements or they will have to be disassembled.

Houston told the council the turbine setup will be the same color as the building’s roof, and the turbines will likely make less noise than the 55-decibel limit dictated by town law, which is roughly the sound of a normal conversation.

“It should blend in quite well,” Houston said. “It should be almost noiseless.”

The structure that will hold the turbines includes wire mesh, as well, to limit unintended bird deaths.

The three turbines will each be four feet in diameter, with rotating fans partly enclosed inside barrel-like structures, so they won’t match the typical perception of a windmill-like turbine. They will cumulatively produce 7.5 kilowatts per hour at peak production.

“We picked [this model] because it is silent and bird-friendly,” Mario Villa Santa said to the Ocean City Planning and Zoning Commission in October, when a public hearing was held regarding approval of the turbines. Villa Santa’s neighbors on either side did not voice any objections to the installation at the hearing.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Pamela Buckley told Villa Santa his home is the “guinea pig” for single-family home turbines on the resort, and Ocean City Development Corp. Executive Director Glenn Irwin said he hopes the project will inspire other people to pursue means to create renewable energy in town.

Michael John Panco III, of Ultra Solar and Wind Solutions LLC, is working to have his company install the turbines at the Villa Santa home, he said. The company, which has an Ocean City office at 146th Street, also offers a wind turbine product endorsed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for its silence and bird-friendliness.

Panco said he hopes to begin installing turbine products in town frequently in the near future.