Cohocton Wind Watch: Clayton accepts wind report
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Clayton accepts wind report

DEPAUVILLE — The Clayton Town Council agreed to keep the sound limitations and most of the setback recommendations from the Wind Committee and forward them to the town attorney to begin writing a new zoning law for wind power development.

The council, meeting Wednesday night, held voice votes on all 16 recommendations forwarded from the committee. The only point dropped by the council was a recommendation to site turbines so there would be no flicker effect falling at road intersections.

"We asked the committee to do a job and they did it," Councilman George E. Kittle said. "If we ignored their recommendations, we'd be hard-pressed to ever get another committee to do anything for us again."

Council members disagreed on the setback from wetlands. The committee recommended 500feet from state-registered wetlands.

"The federal government and state government make setbacks for any development from wetlands," Supervisor Justin A. Taylor said. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has a 100-foot setback from state-registered wetlands.

Mr. Taylor said DEC is very involved in the environmental review process for proposed developments.

"If they want more than the regulation, they'll weigh in on that," he said.

Committee member Duane C. Hazelton said, "The 400-foot towers should not be 100 feet from the wetlands."

Councilman Lance L. Peterson said, "I find it surprising that DEC's regulation is only 100 feet."

He, along with Mr. Kittle and Councilman Donald I. Turcotte, supported the wind committee's recommendation.

The council agreed to strike language creating setbacks from the St. Lawrence River and village of Clayton, because the northern part of the town is not included in the overlay district where wind development is allowed.

In a setback recommendation from roads, the committee had set it at 3.5 times the height of the turbine or 500 feet, whichever is greater. Additional language, deleted by the council, allowed for guidance by physics on the distance ice or debris could be thrown.

The council kept setbacks of 4,500 feet from the hamlet of Depuaville and the Chaumont River downstream of the hamlet. The council also kept setbacks of 21/2 times the height of the turbine from participating residents' homes and 31/2 times the height from nonparticipating residents' property lines.

The council did not touch noise requirements, which rule that turbines should produce no more than 5 decibels above ambient levels of audible and low-frequency noise for nonparticipating residents at their property lines. Participating residents can have up to 50 decibels of noise at their homes.

For both noise and setbacks, nonparticipating residents would be allowed to sign easements, lowering the requirements to those of participating residents.

"We thought that was an innovation compared to other communities," committee member Edward A. Oliver said, "Maybe these companies should be addressing both parties and get the whole community behind a project."

The recommendations, after being crafted into a law, will go through the public hearing process. Mr. Taylor said the council will wait until another committee completes work zoning for private renewable energy development.

Before the council discussed the recommendations, more than 20 members of the public commented on the recommendations. There were more than 50 people in the audience.

Charles E. Ebbing, a retired acoustic engineer for Carrier Corp., said both Clayton's and Orleans's current laws are flawed.

"The initial laws were not based on scientific facts carefully reviewed by the town boards," he said. "All of the recommendations were based on scientific reasoning."

Jenny L. Burke, Iberdrola's business developer, reminded the council of the developer's May 20 letter.

"Iberdrola does not believe you should adopt these recommendations," she said. "Maple Ridge was sited responsibly and your current zoning law allowed us to do that here."

At the council's May 27 meeting, she told the council that zoning based on the recommendations would eliminate the proposed Horse Creek Wind Farm.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Taylor said, "I don't know if wind power is at an end in the town of Clayton or if wind power will be reconfigured in the town of Clayton."


Blogger Craig Goodrich said...

What kind of regulation, exactly, is appropriate for an industry that utterly destroys wilderness and rustic landscapes thousands of acres at a time, while producing nothing of value and sucking up tax revenue?

The only appropriate setback for "wind farms" from our beautiful upstate New York would place them somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico.

5:17 AM  

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