Officials in the town that planted the first windmills in New York State will vote Thursday on a 12-month moratorium on wind-power facilities.
The Madison Town Board will hold a special meeting at 7:30 p.m. to consider the moratorium, drafted to give town officials time to rework the town’s special permit regulations for windmills. That will allow the town to adopt regulations that may be necessary to preserve “the health, safety and welfare of the Town and its citizens,” the proposal says.
Madison town officials said there were very few, if any, land use regulations in place when the state’s first seven windmills went up on Madison farmland in 2000.
In 2007, 23 windmills were built nearby on 3,500 acres in the Madison County towns of Stockbridge, Madison and Eaton and in the Oneida County town of Augusta.
But a developer’s proposal to build 36 new turbines in the township has sparked controversy with neighbors in the rural community that straddles Route 20 in eastern Madison County.
Public hearings on the proposed $110 million Rolling Upland Wind Farm in recent months have been attended by hundreds of residents, who have expressed concerns about the height of the proposed turbines and the proximity to residential areas.
Earlier this month, about 100 residents turned out to a public hearing on the proposed moratorium, calling on town officials to enact stronger land-use and zoning regulations.
“The town needs time to define a land use policy that adequately acknowledges the interests of industrial, commercial, agricultural and residential users,” said Lynn Taylor of Hickory Court in her written statement to the town board.
“I would prefer that they at least be sited in a way so that the noise and visual impacts infringe as little as possible on neighbors who are not receiving the financial benefits of their existence,” said Sarah Blue of West Hill Road.
“You have much to gain and almost nothing to lose by adopting a 12-month moratorium,” said Hamilton Town Board member Carolyn Todd. “Rushing into a decision without an adequate and thorough understanding of what lies ahead for the town of Madison seems unwise.”
The proposed moratorium directs the town planning board to appoint a seven-member committee to address issues including allowable setbacks and heights of turbines, as well as an “up-to-date review of wind energy and its effect on land use.”
The law calls for a 12-month moratorium, but gives town officials the option of extending the moratorium in three-month increments.
Such moratoriums are common. The town of Sullivan enacted a short moratorium on residential wind power several years ago, said Supervisor John Becker, to allow planning officials to update town zoning code.
“We never wanted to keep the windmills out,” he said.
Town officials in Cazenovia followed their 2007 moratorium with a law that dictates turbine height and setbacks.
Neither township had existing windmills at the time of their moratorium.
Madison County Planning Director Scott Ingmire said there was little response last summer when town and county officials reached out to residents for help in writing a new comprehensive plan for the town of Madison.
“It took this to be a catalyst for people to be interested,” Ingmire said.
If you go
What: Madison Town Board vote on proposed windmill moratorium
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Madison municipal building, 7358 Route 20, Madison
For more information: The full moratorium is posted online at www.townofmadisonny.org.