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Public input considered on wind energy

The Town Board will use comments from a Tuesday night public hearing to make some changes before it passes a proposed local law regulating wind energy facilities. Town Supervisor Chris Gerwitz told about 80 people at the hearing in the Ashford Community Center that he hopes for passage of the law but that the Town Board must first hold more discussions with the Planning Board and the town attorney.

ASHFORD-The Town Board will use comments from a Tuesday night public hearing to make some changes before it passes a proposed local law regulating wind energy facilities.

Town Supervisor Chris Gerwitz told about 80 people at the hearing in the Ashford Community Center that he hopes for passage of the law but that the Town Board must first hold more discussions with the Planning Board and the town attorney.

Comments by residents at the session centered on the inadequacy of a proposed 1,000-foot setback from the nearest residence and a maximum 50-decibel noise level, despite the state-recommended 40- decibel limit and the World Health Organization's 30-decibel limit.

Several of the comments focused on potential adverse effects on health from low-frequency sound, strobe lighting and other factors said to affect balance, sleep and other sensitivities in some individuals.

One resident noted a requirement for removal of aboveground structures when the wind farm is closed, but that underground structures are ignored. Another cautioned that some ridges in view should be free of turbines.

Tom McLeod of Machias said he was shocked at the draft law, contending that such a facility would harm... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

ASHFORD-The Town Board will use comments from a Tuesday night public hearing to make some changes before it passes a proposed local law regulating wind energy facilities.

Town Supervisor Chris Gerwitz told about 80 people at the hearing in the Ashford Community Center that he hopes for passage of the law but that the Town Board must first hold more discussions with the Planning Board and the town attorney.

Comments by residents at the session centered on the inadequacy of a proposed 1,000-foot setback from the nearest residence and a maximum 50-decibel noise level, despite the state-recommended 40- decibel limit and the World Health Organization's 30-decibel limit.

Several of the comments focused on potential adverse effects on health from low-frequency sound, strobe lighting and other factors said to affect balance, sleep and other sensitivities in some individuals.

One resident noted a requirement for removal of aboveground structures when the wind farm is closed, but that underground structures are ignored. Another cautioned that some ridges in view should be free of turbines.

Tom McLeod of Machias said he was shocked at the draft law, contending that such a facility would harm farms, impede residential development and lower property values. Conversely, another speaker said that he interviewed residents of Eagle, Wethersfield and Sheldon and was told that the wind farm projects there are keeping farms in business.

Not all comments were negative. Kevin Murray, a West Valley fire chief, said his department soon will upgrade to a digital communications system and hopes the new equipment can be attached to the towers.

Some asked about financial benefits of wind energy, how consumer costs of wind-generated power are calculated and the generating capacity of the project, while one man urged the town to demand that developers use all local labor.

Jeff Peterson of Freedom advised the Town Board to "go after as much as you can get" from developers, noting that when he was working at nearby wind farms, he learned that some residents were happy and that others were not.

Horizon Wind Energy for several years has been exploring the community for a project of a dozen wind turbines to produce 20 megawatts of electricity. The company also has been working with residents to obtain leases in Machias and Yorkshire, but neither town has adopted a draft local law on wind energy.

Gerwitz said the developer would pay about $100,000 annually in lieu of taxes, with towns receiving $13,550, the West Valley School District receiving $58,950 and the county receiving $27,500, plus annual consumer price index adjustments. He also noted that Horizon has informed the town that all the necessary leases have been signed by Dutch Hill residents.

The meeting was interrupted by occasional outbursts, nearly spinning out of control at times, with some in the crowd speaking out of turn and one objecting loudly because many in attendance were not residents. Someone else pointed out the Ashford project is part of a larger array to span Machias and Yorkshire.

Planning Board Chairman Andrea Mellon insisted that her board had not met with Horizon to write the law. She said that every tower would have to undergo a complete environmental review.


Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/...

JUL 2 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20950-public-input-considered-on-wind-energy
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