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Wind Energy Facilities Law, Town of Richland, New York  

Author:  | New York, Ordinances

The Town Board of the Town of Richland finds and declares that:

5-1 The New York State Constitution’s “Bill of Rights for Local Governments” (Article IX, §2-10) obligates local legislators to protect the health, safety and well-being of their community.

5-2 While wind energy is a semi-renewable energy resource of electricity generation, and under some circumstances it may reduce the use of nonrenewable energy sources, the possible benefits must be balanced against potential negative impacts to local citizens, local economy, local ecosystems and regional military facilities.

5-3 Regulation of the siting and installation of wind turbines is necessary for protecting the health, safety and well-being of neighboring property owners, the general public, the local economy and local ecosystems.

5-4 Several independent legal and economic experts have concluded that there can be serious legal and economic detriments for landowners entering into the secretive, complicated and one-sided lease/easement contracts written by industrial wind energy developers.

5-5 Large-scale multiple-turbine industrial wind energy facilities present significant potential negative aesthetic impacts because of their enormous size, lighting, dissimilarity from the natural environment, and possible shadow flicker effects.

5-6 Installation of large-scale multiple-turbine industrial wind energy facilities can create and/or exacerbate drainage problems through erosion and lack of sediment control of facility and access road sites, and harm farmlands and agriculture through construction methods utilized and arable land conversion to industrial purposes.

5-7 Construction of industrial wind energy facilities can create traffic problems, dangerous road conditions for local and other travelers and damage local roads

5-8 There is significant evidence from independent appraisers that industrial wind energy facilities will likely reduce property values of nearby property owners. Said property value reductions will reduce the Town’s tax base, resulting in a tax rate increase on all Town property owners.

5-9 A large-scale industrial wind energy facility may be a significant source of noise and vibration, These can have negative health impacts on residents in neighboring properties, particularly in areas with low ambient noise levels. According to various medical experts (by way of limited example, the World Health Organization), the infrasound component of such noise can be the most problematic.

5-10 In certain circumstances, industrial wind energy facilities can cause electromagnetic interference with some types of communications.

5-11 Independent experts have concluded that bats killed by industrial wind energy turbines can result in an appreciable reduction in regional agricultural yields. Estimates have been done for every county in the United States, and these experts have projected that this could adversely affect our local community’s economy.

5-12 Independent experts have concluded that turbines kill large quantities of birds. Especially troublesome are the raptors that are destroyed. The Town of Richland is located on a major migration route for many species of birds, and is habitat for many species, both year-round and seasonal.

5-13 Independent experts have concluded that industrial turbines can have a variety of adverse health effects on other wildlife, livestock and domestic animals.

5-14 Independent experts have also concluded that industrial turbines can have a variety of adverse effects on hunting and fishing.

5-15 The Town of Richland has many scenic viewsheds, and some of these would be negatively affected by industrial wind energy facilities.

5-16 The Town of Richland is considering adopting a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan which will include the establishment of a Scenic Overlay District in recognition of the importance of the scenic assets of the community.

5-17 Public and private dollars have been invested in infrastructure within the Town to enhance and promote tourism, an important regional industry. Several studies by independent experts have concluded that nearby industrial wind energy facilities can have a major negative economic impact on tourism-sensitive communities.

5-18 The Town and its citizens desire to maintain the pastoral, rural nature of this region. An industrial wind energy facility is in conflict with the culture and character of this community.

5-19 Due to the unusually broad array of potentially problematic findings (and lack of scientifically proven net benefits), the precautionary principle dictates that the Town be particularly conservative and cautionary in its regulation of industrial wind energy.

5-20 In formulation of this Local Law, many studies have been reviewed – and those written by independent experts were given the greatest consideration. (See WiseEnergy.org for good examples of such reports.) Many wind energy ordinances through the United States have been analyzed. Experiences of other communities with industrial wind energy have been studied. An ad hoc Committee was appointed to make recommendations regarding industrial wind energy regulation. Some of the Committee’s conclusions were incorporated into this Local Law.

Noise Impacts:

Applicant will provide a post-construction noise monitoring plan which shall, at a minimum, provide verification from a qualified party that at the WEF [Wind Energy Facility] boundaries and at proximate residences, WEF noise does not exceed 35 dBA for more than five (5) consecutive minutes during a representative range of operating and atmospheric conditions. Instrumentation to verify this shall meet ANSI or IEC Type 1 standards, and measurement procedures shall comply with relevant portions of ANSI 812.9, Part 3. Each report will include the SCADA/Power output data at the time of the testing.

WEF Dimensional Requirements:

To provide for at least minimal operational safety for persons and property located outside of a WEF, all WEFs shall comply with the minimums and maximums contained in the following table:

Type of Wind Energy Facility

Minimum Wind Turbine Setback* from any Property Line, Public or Private Right of Way, and/or Access Easement

Maximum Wind Turbine Height†

Small (≤100 kW)

1.5 feet for each foot of height from any property line and any vacant or occupied dwelling unit on the same property

75 feet

Large (>100 kW)

One (1( mile from facility property lines

500 feet

* Such minimum setbacks for a WEF shall be measured from its outermost extension (whether blade tip, nacelle/turbine housing, or tower/pole edge) that is nearest the WEF property line, public or private right-of- way, and access easement.

† Height is measured from the lowest adjacent grade to the highest point of the structure, including any attachments (such as a lightening protection device or a turbine rotor or tip of the turbine blade when it reaches its highest elevation). No portion of any wind turbine blade shall be closer than 25 feet to any portion of the ground that surrounds any WEF. No LWEF wind turbine shall be permitted to be within five (5) miles of any operating or proposed radar facility (NEXRAD, military, commercial etc.).

Download original document: “Wind Energy Facilities Law, Town of Richland, New York

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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