Zoning/Planning and New York
The wind-turbine law and the appointment of a new town board member are stirring the pot in Richmondville.
Councilmen earlier this month scheduled a wind law workshop with the planning board and appointed former supervisor Betsy Bernocco to a vacant council seat.
Both moves sparked outcries from critics, who responded with phone calls and letters to the editor.
Nearly four months after the state attorney general's office established a code of conduct for wind energy developers, local wind farm developers have not yet signed on.
In fact, only the two out-of-state companies that signed the agreement Oct. 30 have committed to following the attorney general's Wind Industry Ethics Code. Those two companies, Noble Environmental Power LLC, Essex, Conn., and First Wind, Newton, Mass., signed the pact after an investigation by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo into allegations that they were bribing local officials to push through wind projects.
The Town of Hunter has officially extended its moratorium on wind turbine construction for another six months.
The action was taken at the monthly board meeting, following a public hearing on the extension, as the draft town law regulating turbine placement and construction has not yet been completed.
The original moratorium adopted last year was put in effect to give the town some time to develop just such a law after concerns about the siting of wind turbines surfaced.
The 10-member committee discussed material presented at the Feb. 12 meeting by Gregory C. Tocci, principal at Cavanaugh Tocci Associates ...Among his recommendations were that the town adopt a law that uses a certain number of decibels above ambient noise as opposed to the current flat allowed rate of 50 decibels. The state Department of Environmental Conservation recommends no more than six decibels.
The group's ad, which ran in Sunday's Times, outlined potential conflicts of interest State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, three Town Council members and three Planning Board members have with wind developers. The conflicts are leases they or family members have signed with one or both of the wind farm developers in the town.
The conflicts were acknowledged publicly in July when the board members filled out disclosure forms.
The town's wind committee got a tutorial on noise and advice on rewriting the noise standard in the local wind development ordinance at its meeting Thursday night.
After the session, some members said it may be time to consider changing the law.
The committee had a teleconference with Gregory C. Tocci, principal at Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, Sudbury, Mass. Mr. Tocci's firm evaluated the noise studies done in Clayton by consultant CH2MHill for Iberdrola and in Cape Vincent by consultant Hessler Associates for BP Alternative Energy.
Cherry Valley Supervisor Tom Garretson met with the town's Renewable and Alternative Energy Committee Tuesday night to continue the discussion of an East Hill wind farm.
"I basically gave them some direction,'' Garretson said. "Right now it's exploratory - a fact-finding mission.''
The wind is picking up again.
Town Supervisor Tom Garretson, worried that tax revenues will begin dropping due to the recession, has directed his Alternative Energy Committee to begin exploring what size wind farm can be accommodated on East Hill under the town's wind regulations.
Town of Wirt council members are looking into prospects of a wind farm following a presentation Monday in which a Wyoming County town supervisor described how windmills helped blow his hamlet through tough times.
Eagle Town Supervisor Joe Kushner, along with Eagle deputy supervisor Tom Jacobs, described the process they endured with Noble Environmental Power.
Kenneth Walter, who has opposed the project since its inception in 2007, filed the suit in December of last year, claiming the approximately 265-foot turbine would be detrimental to property occupied by his mother, Alice Walter. Kenneth, in his capacity as trustee, claims the turbine would constitute an unreasonable intrusion on the quality of life of his mother.
There's still a lot of work left to do, but Howard town board members are looking forward to this spring.
That's because after two lawsuits and years of work, wind developer EverPower Renewables is planning on breaking ground on a 25-turbine wind project.
There had been little news for months from the company, town Attorney Karl Anderson said.
"All of a sudden, we get communication back two weeks ago wanting everything done," Anderson said. ...According to town Attorney Karl Anderson, at least six agreements will need to be developed.
The town's wind committee finished its five-month-long consideration of a zoning law amendment for wind development by haggling over setbacks. ...Richard H. Macsherry, Tibbetts Point, said, "If this ultimately is a negotiation, I would like to see a law that is worked on by this committee, not another group. To me, the requirements for sound are more of an issue."
The Town of Hunter wants to extend its moratorium on wind turbines for another six months in order to finish off the writing and potential adoption of a local law to regulate their construction and placement.
Hunter Supervisor Dennis Lucas said Tuesday night that the request for the extension had come from the Town Planning Board, which is developing a draft of the law from existing sample documents, including turbine laws from other municipalities.
The town's wind committee agreed to open its future meetings to the public Thursday night during its first session, which was closed to the public at the request of the town supervisor and Planning Board chairman.
Four members of the public and two members of the press came to see if they would be allowed in the meeting. They were not.
The Enfield Town Board's adoption of a law on wind farms means bringing engineers in to place the turbines will be the next step in starting the first such operation to Tompkins County, the proposal's developer said.
"This is the beginning of the work," said John Rancich, who has proposed the wind farm. "It was a long haul to get these guidelines, so I had something to base a plan on. Now that I have them confirmed, I can make those plans."
During its first meeting of the new year Monday night, the Farmersville Town Board made no changes while completing the update of the town's local wind farm law.
A November wind farm law was repealed and a public hearing was held so board members could properly assess the law's potential to cause environmental impacts with a longer environmental assessment form.
The Enfield Town Board passed a wind law Wednesday night by a vote of 4-0 after two years of work.
The passage of the law, which maintains setbacks of approximately 450 feet from occupied structures and 100 feet from property lines, will allow wind farm developer John Rancich to proceed with development plans. ...
Supervisor Frank Podufalski acknowledged that the town's local law is at the low end of NYSERDA guidelines, but said the guidelines in the law will fit for Enfield.
In the wake of a state Supreme Court decision striking down Hamlin's law regulating wind turbines, town officials plan to begin crafting a new law as soon as possible.
"We're looking at various options," said Town Supervisor Denny Roach, adding that he was "surprised and disappointed" by the Jan. 5 ruling from Justice David M. Barry nullifying wind turbine laws crafted through more than two years of public hearings, committee meetings and research.
A group of Hamlin residents concerned that new town laws regulating wind towers would allow unfettered wind farms to destroy their town's rural character have won a significant victory in state Supreme Court. ...The group claimed the town board ignored recommendations of its Wind Tower Committee - which included four of the 39 residents who filed the suit - to establish 1,500-foot setbacks from roads and property lines and 2,640-foot setbacks from homes.
The Wind Energy Law adopted in April 2008 by the Monroe County Town of Hamlin has been "set aside and annulled" by the Hon. David Michael Barry, Justice of New York State's Supreme Court, in an "Order and Judgment" granted on January 5, 2009. The court's decision concludes that the Hamlin Town Board violated the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) when it neither took a "hard look" at the relevant areas of environmental concern, nor set forth a "reasoned elaboration" for its determination that the wind energy law would not have a significant impact on the environment.