Cohocton Wind Watch: Panel seeking specifics on noise
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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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Panel seeking specifics on noise

CAPE VINCENT — Members of the committee formed to produce a zoning amendment to deal with wind farms want specifics.

During a meeting Thursday afternoon, the committee agreed to ask the acoustical engineering firm Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, Sudbury, Mass., to evaluate the noise-measuring methods in different laws. That firm panned Hessler Associates' ambient noise study in BP Alternative Energy's draft environmental impact statement for the Cape Vincent Wind Farm.

"My request would be that these documents should be sent to Cavanaugh and Tocci for their review," said Richard Macsherry, Tibbetts Point. The documents included the current draft of the Cape Vincent zoning law, a law written for the Association of Towns and rules for noise studies written by Clifford P. Schneider.

"I think if we knew ambient and could come up with an average, that would give us something to work with," said Beth A. White, president of Voters for Wind.

"You've got to have some process for everyone to follow," Mr. Macsherry said.

Kris D. Dimmick, vice president at Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown, said wind developers should all measure sound against the same ambient noise level, not take new measurements for ambient noise after a wind farm is constructed.

"Future farms have to use the first ambient noise levels as a baseline," he said. "That makes sure everyone uses the same starting level so you don't get cumulative effects."

He also suggested including in the law a certain number of times a turbine could "fail" the noise test without being shut down. The zoning law would outlaw turbines exceeding six decibels above ambient noise at the property lines bordering nonparticipating residents.

"We may want to allow exceedance beyond six decibels a certain number of times," he said. "Just to let everyone know this is the real world. That number of occurrences would have to be decided."

The committee asked Mr. Dimmick to compile information on turbine failures and how far ice or blades have been thrown.

"I hope the setbacks we have are going to be safe," Mr. Macsherry said. "The town certainly is trying to do the right thing."

The closest setback in the proposed amendment is from public roads, which is the greater of 500 feet or 11/2 times the height of the turbine.

Mr. Rienbeck said he thought the proposed law a few years ago had setbacks of 750 feet from county roads and 1,000 feet from state roads.

"If you have some problem, it's going to probably be under stiff wind conditions," Mr. Dimmick said. "We'll see if we can find from public record the turbines that have failed."

Before the next meeting, the committee also will review changes made by Michael J. Bourcy, community development coordinator for Jefferson County.

Mr. Macsherry said, "Through all this process, we haven't made the developer offer anything on how to address failure incidents. I'd like to hear what he has to say on how often and how much they're going to fail."

The next meeting of the committee will be at 4 p.m. Nov. 20.

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