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Prattsburgh: sound expert may be tapped for noise ordinance

Prattsburgh town officials will meet Tuesday to consider hiring a sound expert to draft a general noise ordinance aimed at regulating wind turbines. The board's action followed an initial report by Seth Waltz, president of Avl Designs, Inc. of Pensfield, on his preliminary study of noise in Prattsburgh, the neighboring town of Naples and wind farm in Cohocton operated by First Wind.

PRATTSBURGH -- Prattsburgh town officials will meet Tuesday to consider hiring a sound expert to draft a general noise ordinance aimed at regulating wind turbines.

The board's action followed an initial report by Seth Waltz, president of Avl Designs, Inc. of Pensfield, on his preliminary study of noise in Prattsburgh, the neighboring town of Naples and wind farm in Cohocton operated by First Wind.

Waltz was hired by the board two weeks ago as an independent sound expert to give his opinion on potential noise problems generated by wind turbines. Noise has surfaced as a key issue for Prattsburgh members after residents in Cohocton complained the turbines sounded like jet engines.

Prattsburgh is the site of two proposed wind farms. Wind developer Ecogen has claimed it is ready to begin construction of 16 turbines in Prattsburgh this year, while First Wind's plans to set up 50 towers in the town is currently on hold due to the struggling economy.

But Waltz's proposed fee of $11,600 was more than the town can afford, some town councilmen said at Tuesday's board meeting. The town's 2009 tax levy is $1.7 million.

Other board members said cutting other budgeted items to find the money to pay Waltz... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

PRATTSBURGH -- Prattsburgh town officials will meet Tuesday to consider hiring a sound expert to draft a general noise ordinance aimed at regulating wind turbines.

The board's action followed an initial report by Seth Waltz, president of Avl Designs, Inc. of Pensfield, on his preliminary study of noise in Prattsburgh, the neighboring town of Naples and wind farm in Cohocton operated by First Wind.

Waltz was hired by the board two weeks ago as an independent sound expert to give his opinion on potential noise problems generated by wind turbines. Noise has surfaced as a key issue for Prattsburgh members after residents in Cohocton complained the turbines sounded like jet engines.

Prattsburgh is the site of two proposed wind farms. Wind developer Ecogen has claimed it is ready to begin construction of 16 turbines in Prattsburgh this year, while First Wind's plans to set up 50 towers in the town is currently on hold due to the struggling economy.

But Waltz's proposed fee of $11,600 was more than the town can afford, some town councilmen said at Tuesday's board meeting. The town's 2009 tax levy is $1.7 million.

Other board members said cutting other budgeted items to find the money to pay Waltz would be worth it. Waltz's continued services include more extensive reviews, site tests, assisting in drafting the ordinance and a final report to the board.

Councilman Steve Kula said the board should be committed at the outset to passing the law if it is drafted.

However, Councilwoman Stacey Bottoni said she would have to see the final draft before agreeing to pass it.

"I'm not going to promise to enact something I haven't seen," Bottoni said.

Waltz's preliminary report said the law would be "responsible acoustically" but not restrict all background noise.

"The only way the turbines will present no change to the environmental noise ... is not to install them," Waltz said in his report.

According to Waltz's proposal to the board the draft law would

· Favor using property lines instead of residences for required setbacks.

· Refer to sound in general and not specifically target wind turbine noises, with more stringent allowable levels.

· Include low frequency measurements as well as the more commonly use high frequency levels.

· Exempt wind turbine leaseholders from the protection of the ordinance.

Bottoni appeared to have the most objections to the proposal, saying she was satisfied with using noise guidelines set by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Steuben County Industrial Development Agency.

Kula and Councilman Chuck Shick, said Waltz's report validates concerns they have raised in the past about the noise that could generated by the 2.3 MW Siemens turbines Ecogen intend to use.

Waltz's report would include a review and study of the Siemens model .

Councilwoman Sharon Quigley and town Supervisor Harold McConnell said they would be willing to consider the report but are concerned about the cost to the town.

McConnell also said the board has received reams of conflicting information on noise levels.

Kula said the law from an independent agency would cut through the confusion and protect citizens from intolerable noise.

"Somebody annoyed in their garden is one thing," Kula said. "Somebody can't sleep at night? That's a whole different thing."

In other action take by the board on Tuesday, McConnell said Ecogen's parent company, Babcock & Brown North American Energy Group, has been purchased by the private equity firm Riverstone Holdings LLC and B&B managers to form Pattern Energy Group LP.

Ecogen attorney Robert Burgdorf told the board the company is negotiating new leases with some landowners in order to accommodate some complaints from residents. Burgdorf declined to identify the landowners saying it would open them to harassment from windfarm opponents.

Some council members want a completed site map in order to determine whether Ecogen would use eminent domain procedures to connect cables or set up collection points.

Burgdorf also said he would ask Ecogen's head office when the firm intends to begin construction. Ecogen said at the beginning of the year construction would start up by the spring.


Source: http://www.steubencourier.c...

JUL 25 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/21392-prattsburgh-sound-expert-may-be-tapped-for-noise-ordinance
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