Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from New Jersey
Township Committee officials unanimously approved an ordinance Wednesday that will allow the use of windmills to generate renewable power in environmentally safe ways in specific regions of the township. ...The minimum 10-acre lot size prevents the windmills from being built in residential neighborhoods, said Committeeman Paul Drake, who initiated the plan. However, the 10-acre minimum, which drew opposition by some residents during Wednesday's public hearing, is a "bulk standard" that the Planning Board can consider allowing a variance for smaller lots if it makes sense, he said. ...The revised ordinance now indicates a Wildlife Habitat Assessment report must be prepared by the applicant, specifically addressing wildlife habitat affected by the installation of a windmill.
In November, municipal officials tabled the introduction of a windmill-related ordinance after a member of the Sourland Mountain Planning Council voiced concerns about the impact of the windmills on some endangered species and plants in the region. While Steve Bales, also a township resident, is a proponent of renewable energy, he asked Township Committee members to amend the language of the ordinance to reflect better ways to preserve the Sourland Mountain region. Council members did just that and introduced a new version of the ordinance Tuesday. The measure is up for public review and a possible vote Dec. 26. ..."I do have a concern over the setback," said Laura Burshnic, a township resident. "I think 180 feet is just a little too close. I wouldn't want to look out my window and see that. It would be an eyesore." The Township Committee then changed the ordinance to reflect a windmill having a 250-foot setback from property lines, easements or utility lines.
Hoboken-based Bluewater Wind, which wants to build a wind turbine park off Delaware's Atlantic coast, is interested in building a pilot project off New Jersey, according to a company official. Meanwhile, New Jersey is seeking proposals for offshore ecological studies - from Seaside Park to Stone Harbor - that would be completed by Sept. 30, 2009, at a cost of up to $4.5 million.
A federal proposal to make New Jersey part of a special corridor for new electric power lines is cause for alarm, a state environmental group contends. "This designation would give utilities the right to use eminent domain to acquire private property to build their lines," said Jeff Tittel, head of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club. It would also encourage the production and transmission of electricity from coal-fired plants at a time when the state is trying to promote clean and renewable energy, Tittle warned.
Offshore wind facilities are expected to have negligible to minor environmental impacts in general - "if the proper siting and mitigation measures are followed," a draft study says. But some activists faulted the draft environmental impact statement by the federal Minerals Management Service. The document covers technologies for tapping offshore wind, wave and current energy. The agency jumped to conclusions about the risks without having adequate information, said Eric Stiles, vice president for conservation and stewardship in the New Jersey Audubon Society. "It's grossly premature to conclude," for example, that impacts on birds will be only moderate, Stiles said.
New Jersey's plan to spend $4.5 million to study birds and marine life offshore prior to a pilot project with up to 80 wind turbines has drawn mixed views from activists. "Our ocean deserves a robust, thorough, and scientifically valid study - not this bargain basement, blue-light special," according to a statement from Cynthia A. Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, a Sandy Hook-based coalition. Birds should be studied for three years before construction of offshore wind farms, according to a 2006 letter from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official. The proposed New Jersey ecological study would last for 18 months. While an 18-month study is "not an end-point," it's "a major milestone for moving forward in making informed and appropriate decisions regarding siting of wind turbines," said Eric Stiles, vice president for conservation and stewardship in the New Jersey Audubon Society.
Steve Gallo, executive director of the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, said he is looking for innovative ways to save money for the city, and reduce the cost of his authority's energy needs. One of these ways, he said, is the possibility of installing modern windmills on BMUA controlled land to harness wind gusts off New York Bay to generate power for the Oak Street pump station. "We are trying to use new technology to find ways of saving our energy costs," Gallo said. "This is evident with the recent installation of solar panels in our schools that makes Bayonne the largest non-power company to supply energy on the east coast." Two years ago, the municipal authority in South Plainfield installed a wind-generated turbine to run a station, and with Bayonne surrounded on three sides, Gallo figures he might be able to do the same things. Windmills have also been successfully installed at Atlantic County Utility Authority, and combined with solar panels it generates enough energy to run the plant.
American Transport Systems, of Vineland, told the Cumberland County Economic Development Board Dec. 12 that it has been exploring putting up to 150 wind energy turbines along the Delaware Bay.
Yet, despite the operation of New Jersey’s small wind project since January, there is uncertainty about whether wind farms, particularly gigantic turbines positioned off the region’s coastline, will be embraced here. On Long Island, a 40-turbine project being considered off the South Shore is facing stiff resistance from opponents who argue that the turbines will damage pristine ocean views, fail to deliver cost-effective electricity and create environmental problems. In New Jersey, powerful local politicians have lined up behind wind power, where up to 80 turbines — rising 380 feet or more above the water along the South Jersey coastline — have been proposed to take advantage of the near-constant breezes.
A local lawmaker has asked the Corzine administration to build more than 100 windmills off Atlantic City's shore.
In an ambitious $3 billion plan, the nation's largest power generator has proposed building a 550-mile power line stretched atop 13-story towers to bring surplus electricity from coal-fired plants in Appalachia and the Midwest to the power-hungry eastern seaboard.
Offshore wind turbines may not provide substantial benefits to the state's environment and could come with some risks, a report by released today states.