Findings. The Town Board of the Town of Somerset makes the following findings:
1. Short-sighted planning has often resulted in creation of problem industries which adversely affect public health and quality of life, examples are found in Somerset, as well as many other areas of New York State, where abandoned buildings and brownfields exist, health has been adversely affected, pollution has been proliferated, quality of life has been diminished, aesthetics have been compromised and community character has been degraded. Commercial Wind Energy Facilities are not exempt from these problems and careful siting and protections are of paramount importance. Local communities have, through zoning, site plan approval, regulation and careful planning been primary protectors of their citizenry. This local Law will contribute to this effort. The existence of Article X of the Public Service Law does not negate this responsibility, and in fact recognizes it. Further, Article X remains untested by judicial review addressing several potential legal issues. This Law is not unduly burdensome to the mandates or the process set forth in Article X, but is rather compatible with them.
2. The findings set forth in this Section are cumulative and interactive, and shall be liberally interpreted in conjunction, one with another.
3. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities have increased significantly in number, and can potentially be sited without sufficient regard to their impact on the health, welfare and safety of residents, especially in small rural communities.
4. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities should benefit the residents of the local areas where they are sited.
5. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities are, by their very nature not aesthetically pleasing, due their height, disruption of views and skylines, especially in rural flat landed communities without many high structures.
6. The Town of Somerset is a rural community devoid of large hills and consists of mostly flat terrain.
7. The Town of Somerset is an agricultural community supporting varied agricultural uses and is in the heart of Western New York’s fruit growing region.
8. The Town of Somerset has very few tall structures.
9. The Town of Somerset is bordered on the north by Lake Ontario, and on the east, south and west by Towns which share Somerset’s agricultural and rural residential character, and are similarly low, flat areas.
10. The only other municipality in the Town of Somerset is the Village of Barker, which is a small Village bedroom community, and which is also part of the rural, residential community devoid of high structures.
11. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities represent potential for extreme adverse aesthetic impacts due to their height as well as other affects.
12. The Town of Somerset is located on a major migration route for many species of birds, and is habitat for many species, both year round and seasonal.
13. The bat population in the Town of Somerset is important and in distress.
14. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities are known to pose danger to birds and bats, and have been demonstrated to kill numerous members of both species annually.
15. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities can cause danger to humans and animals, including livestock resulting from ice throw.
16. If not properly regulated, installation of commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities can create drainage problems through erosion, lack of sediment control for facility and access road sites, and can harm farmland through improper construction methods.
17. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities, when improperly sited, are known to adversely affect property values, and cause economic hardship to property owners.
18. The Town of Somerset contains clusters and stretches of homes, including along Lake Ontario shoreline, in and around the Village of Barker, West Somerset, along Route 18 and Lake Road, as well as disbursed residences which residents have chosen as their homes, often because of a love for rural pastoral lifestyle.
19. Town of Somerset residents and visitors enjoy outdoor activities, including marine (boating, fishing, sailing, swimming, kayaking, etc.) and land (hunting, hiking, cycling, snowmobiling, jogging, etc.) all of which are potentially adversely affected by presence of Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities.
20. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities may be significant sources of noise, including infrasound that, if unregulated, can negatively affect quiet enjoyment of the area, properties, and health and quality of life of residents.
21. Construction of Wind Facilities can create traffic problems and can cause damage to local roads and infrastructure.
22. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities have the potential to cause electromagnetic interference with various types of communications.
23. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities have the potential to adversely interfere with orderly development of the Town of Somerset, including single family residences and small subdivisions by making such development unappealing.
24. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities need to be regulated for removal when no longer utilized.
25. Commercial/Industrial Wind Energy Facilities provide renewable energy. Their viability is highly dependent on State and Federal subsidies, and renewable energy companies are subject to economic pressure and potential bankruptcies. Funding and mechanism for removal when no longer operating, needs to be in place.
26. The Town of Somerset has regulated wind energy facilities for the past decade through local laws. This Local Law represents an updating of said regulation.
27. In formulation of this Local Law, many studies have been reviewed and taken into consideration. Wind energy laws in other locations have been reviewed and considered; experiences of other areas have been studied; the Town of Somerset Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and law have been considered and reviewed for compliance; the Town of Somerset Comprehensive Plan has been considered and complied with; an Ad Hoc Committee was appointed to review the need for this law and to make recommendations; its conclusions and recommendations have been duly considered and given great weight.
29. When considering large scale construction and maintenance, due weight should be given to the following:
a) The relative distress caused to a community and its residents;
b) The actual necessity for such facility given energy production in the area and region, including clean energy production;
c) Past and present stresses and disruption imposed upon an area due to all types of energy production;
d) Alternatives to facilities, including location in other areas, location in areas where demand is needed, alternative methods of producing clean energy;
e) Location in areas of highest consumption;
f) Burden on a community and its residents versus reward to community and its residents, with emphasis upon quality of life.