Library filed under Zoning/Planning from New York
The Planning Board is asking developers of a proposed wind turbine project on Reynolds Road to increase the planned setback distances from neighboring properties, but developers say that could result in a greater disturbance to wetlands and the removal of trees. Borrego Solar is seeking approval to construct a single 4.3-megawatt wind turbine on approximately five acres of leased land out of a roughly 191.6-acre parcel located at 411 Reynolds Road.
The Westerlo Town Board has unanimously approved a 90-day extension to the town’s solar and wind energy moratorium, which was first instituted in 2019 to allow the town to develop a new comprehensive plan. The extension is necessary to allow the town additional time to continue reviewing the comprehensive plan draft and three laws relating to renewable energy that are consistent findings of that draft, Deputy Supervisor Matt Kryzak said at the town board’s special meeting and public hearing on Aug. 11.
Geoffrey Milks won the Republican primary for supervisor over Dustin Bliss in the town of Freedom 96-95. Both men are currently Freedom councilmen, but are on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to the Alle-Catt Wind Farm. Milks, who is opposed to the Alle-Catt project, trailed Bliss by two votes after Primary Day tallying, 95-93. With three absentee votes for Milks and none for Bliss, Milks eked out a one-vote win.
In a lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court in Albany on Tuesday, the American Bird Conservancy and 12 other entities filed suit against New York state and its Office of Renewable Energy Siting, among others, charging they failed to comply with the state Environmental Quality Review Act in devising new siting regulations for green-energy projects through the state's Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act. The groups, in a statement, accused the agency and the state of taking "critical shortcuts" in the environmental and public review process for recently approved and sited projects.
In Cattaraugus County, the Legislature is on record as asking the IDA not to grant tax breaks to large wind farms. The county Planning Board said the wind turbines were not in keeping with the rural character of the county and would affect tourism which thousands of county residents rely on. ...However, Wiktor said the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) may be ready under Article 10 to force the IDA to grant tax breaks to help underwrite the wind farm.
The local law was similar to the one approved on a similar 3-2 vote in January, doubling the setbacks of turbines to 3,000 feet, decreasing the height of turbines to 450 feet from 600 feet and limiting noise from wind energy projects like the proposed 340 megawatt Alle-Catt Wind Farm.
Three petitions submitted to the state requested reconsideration of the the project based on issues ranging from the sponsor's failure to adequately inform the public about the installation, to concerns about the impact of turbine blades on golden eagle and bald eagle habitats in the affected area. Opponents alleged the community was purposely kept in the dark in the project's infancy to limit a lively public exchange on the drawbacks.
The current process New York uses to site large renewables was last amended in 2011, and observers say it is cumbersome to navigate because it has no standard set of requirements for projects to meet. The new law calls for establishing regulations and uniform standards to address issues common to large renewables and identifying mitigation measures to address those impacts.
Town Supervisor Dan Pacos said the main changes are an increase in the required setback of turbines from nearby properties, and a differentiation between “large units that connect to the grid as opposed to small units that a farmer wants to use.” The changes were jointly proposed by the town’s zoning and planning boards, he said.
Most of the need for electricity is on the two coasts where the population is clustered while most of the wind resources are far from those clusters; the lack of an infrastructure to transmit the power limits its development. But community-owned wind projects bypass the problem by supplying electricity locally. The money from wind power comes from generating electrical power, not from land rental. We’d like to see that money, and that control, stay local. That way, wind turbines could be placed in locations where they won’t hurt human health or the local economy.
After Shell WindEnergy in 2008 contacted local landowners about leasing property on the crest of the Helderbergs for fifty 380-foot wind turbines, the towns involved scrambled to put ordinances in place. At that time, New Scotland and all four Hilltowns were devoid of zoning related to wind farms. Berne, Knox, and Rensselaerville followed through with zoning laws; New Scotland did not, and Westerlo never undertook the task.
As Guilderland works to amplify and strengthen its solar laws, Kovalchik recommends that the town also begin to work on creating a wind ordinance. He wants the town to join forces with other surrounding municipalities — New Scotland and the Hilltowns — to strengthen their voice, as the state gears up to take over the work of approving large-scale renewable-energy projects.
Towns, citizens, environmental groups, developers and state agencies have operated for almost a decade under Article 10 (the current siting law), so one wonders what changed now that the existing process is hitting its stride. Lord Acton’s quote comes to mind, “All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This is a power grab, pure and simple.
“The Siting Board will meet to consider what appears to be a request by Invenergy for new rules governing Canisteo, Bluestone, Alle-Catt and other large-scale wind and solar projects operating or planned in New York,” Abraham said in an email to members of the groups. “It may be that rules will be changed regarding how local laws are applied,” Abraham said. The meeting will start at 9:45 a.m. Thursday.
The town board voted 3-2 last month to void the town’s 2019 wind law, which officials said left the town’s 2007 wind law in effect. That law includes a 450-foot height requirement, while the developer of the proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm, which would include turbines in Farmersville, wants to install 600-foot turbines. The 2020 Farmersville Wind Energy Facilities Local Law includes greater setbacks from homes and property lines — 3,000 feet to a mile, a lower turbine height and more restrictive noise requirements. According to the supervisor, it was modeled after a local law in Enfield, N.Y. that board members considered more protective.
Myers Shearing said the 455-foot tip height was the smallest industrial turbine available. One of the prior objections of the planning board with the 600-foot height limit was that was not in keeping with the natural character of the county and would be visible far past the town line. The greater setbacks — 3,000 feet from a property line or residence and lower noise levels 42 dBA instead of 50 dBA under the old law. The 2019 law was 1.2 times tip height to a property line.
The Farmersville Town Board will meet in special session Monday to conduct a work session on the environmental assessment form (EAF) for the new proposed Wind Law.
The Farmersville and Freedom town boards both met Monday to take the first steps toward more protective wind turbine laws. On identical 3-2 votes, both town boards introduced 2020 Wind Energy Facilities Laws and set public hearings for next Monday night.
The new majority on the Farmersville Town Board voted Monday to declare a 2019 town wind law void and introduced a more restrictive local law. The proposed local law limits turbine blade ground-to-tip height to 455 feet and seeks a 42-45 dBA noise limit and 3,000-foot setback from turbines to property lines, said Supervisor Francis “Pete” Lounsbury. Town board members voted 3-2 to void the 2019 local wind law enacted 4-0 last year.
The attached ordinance for the town of Sanford, New York outlines the requirements that commercial and non-commercial wind projects must satisfy to ensure the health and safety of citizens and the effectiveness of wind energy production. The ordinance calls for project development plans to be submitted alongside environmental impact reports, shadow flicker and visual impact studies, and lighting requirements as dictated by the FAA. It also provides detailed regulations on a project's components, issuing restrictions on location, visual impact, and noise emission. The Town of Sanford reserves the right to dissapprove the special permit applications submitted for a wind project that fails to meet the ordinance's stated requirements and regulations.