Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Public Hearing on Bath Town Wind Law Monday

Bath, NY — BATH– Bath town board members are looking for input on their proposed wind farm law.

The board will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday on the law, which resulted after council members enacted a moratorium to develop regulations in the event the town is ever approached by a wind farm developers

Councilwoman Rob in Lattimer said there is little reason to believe the town is a potential site for wind energy development now.

“But never say never,” Lattimer said. “Technology is advancing all the time and this seems like an opportune time to put in a law.”

Lattimer represented the town on a wind law committee which including Planning Board President Jim Emo and environmentalist Jim Arthur.

The group considered local wind laws already in place, including the towns of Fremont, Howard and Cohocton, Lattimer said.

While Cohocton is the only town with an operating wind farm, developers are looking at three other sites, in the towns of Hartsville, Howard and Prattsburgh.

Of the three sites, the 8-year-old Prattsburgh project has been the most contentious. After years of discord over setbacks, noise and potential hazards to the environment and people, and the financial benefits of Prattsburgh project, it is now before state Supreme Court Justice John Ark.

Lattimer said the result of the Bath committee meetings was a compromise, often between wide differences in what the regulations should entail.

The end product provides a law allowing property owners to take advantage of what wind developers may offer in the future, she said.

The committee’s proposed law includes:


?1,000 feet from off-site residences
?1.1 times the turbine’s total height from the nearest property line, public road right of way and above ground utility – an approximate distance of 450-550 feet.
?1.5 times the turbine’s total height from above ground utilities -- approximately 700 feet.
?100 feet from state-identified wetlands

The law also restricts sound levels to 50 decibels or lower at the nearest off-site residence.

One unusual feature in the town’s sound regulations is a proposal to allow noise to exceed 50 decibels if the sound levels are normally higher than the 50 dB range.

“Well, street noise can exceed that,” Lattimer said. “You can tolerate a little more if it’s already higher… It’s not always objectionable noise. What we were trying to do is strike that balance.”

Bath’s proposed law provides a tough stance for violations, with a wind company expected to fix a problem within 90 days, with extensions approved by the town board. The board may also revoke a wind energy permit, if a developer fails to provide comply with a remedial plan.

The law received initial approval by the town board last month.

It could be adopted Monday night, depending on public input, Lattimer said.

Lattimer said the law can be amended to respond to advancing technology or new studies on the effect of turbines on people or the environment.

“I was more concerned about hitting a balance,” she said. “We couldn’t ban windmills and we can’t be reckless with property owners’ rights.”

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