Cohocton Wind Watch: Cape rethinks turbine areas
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cape rethinks turbine areas

The members of the committee formed to produce a zoning amendment to deal with wind farms changed their minds about boundaries for the area in which turbines would be allowed.

About three weeks ago, the committee tentatively agreed to set Route 6 as the western boundary for a wind overlay district. But Wednesday afternoon, the committee decided that the entire agricultural-residential district should allow turbines.

That once again adds some land west of Route 6 and south of Bates Road. That land had five turbines planned for BP Alternative Energy's Cape Vincent Wind Farm.

"I'm always on the lookout for being sued for something," Supervisor Thomas K. Rienbeck said. "I can only see this being a very controversial issue if we eliminate turbines that are planned as part of an ongoing project."

He suggested not allowing any wind facilities in that area after this project is completed.

"There's nothing out there," Planning Board Vice Chairman Thomas D. Ingersoll said. "It's the agriculture district."

Village Trustee Robert G. Doud said, "When it comes to wind farms, our goal is to protect the lake district."

At first, Mr. Doud wanted to stick to the standards the committee developed in September.

But the committee decided to add a setback from the lake shoreline from Humphrey Road south to the town boundary line with Lyme. The setback is 1,000 feet plus one and a half times the height of the windmill.

"That's a compromise I can agree with," Mr. Doud said.

That rule will mean at least two of the turbines will not meet the setback guidelines.

Richard H. Macsherry, Tibbetts Point, asked if the committee would share information with other towns about their zoning laws. He brought the noise analysis rules that had been adopted by the town of Lyme. Those rules told developers exactly how they should measure background ambient noise levels, which is the basis for noise clauses in siting laws.

"It seems like each town is trying to reinvent the wheel," he said.

Beth A. White, president of Voters for Wind, said, "I would look to someone like Tocci, someone like that to advise us. Let's not look at Lyme."

Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, an acoustic engineering firm in Sudbury, Mass., analyzed BP Alternative Energy's noise study for the Cape Vincent Wind Farm draft environmental impact statement.

Mr. Ingersoll suggested looking to the state for rules on conducting sound studies.

"It does not have a standard as far as the assessment of sound goes," Mr. Macsherry said.

The committee will ask the town's engineer to attend the next meeting for advice on what to do about noise standards.

The committee agreed to add a phrase in the purpose statement of the law saying the law would be enacted to "preserve private-use-only rights for non-participating landowners."

Mr. Macsherry said he thought it was necessary to protect against eminent domain by the state or county for adding to wind farms.

"At least it is an attempt to say we want landowners to have control," he said.

The next committee meeting will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 30 at the town office, 1964 Route 12E.

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