“This will allow our Comprehensive Planning Committee to take a look at regulations without the threat of something happening,” said Town Attorney Dennis Curtin, noting how the issue has caused problems in the Northern Tier, where municipalities had no restrictions despite a vocal public outcry against proposed windmill farms.
Under town zoning laws, anyone who wanted to construct a windmill would have to simply apply for a variance request. The moratorium, however, will restrict any construction of windmills.
The town held a public hearing on the matter Monday night, and about a half-dozen residents attended. They asked questions about the future prospect for windmills in the town.
“At this time, I know of no one who is interested (in constructing a windmill), and I’m not sure if there is anywhere in the town that would be suitable for windmills,” Curtin said.
It would be extremely difficult for anyone to receive permits to construct mammoth windmills on town property located within the Adirondack Park, Curtin said, noting that anything higher than 40 feet needs a special permit. Windmills constructed for energy are often hundreds of feet tall with blades 100 feet long.
None of the residents voiced any strong opposition to windmills, but a few people suggested the town should take a closer look at windmills as an alternative energy source and not exclude the possibility from future zoning efforts.
“This moratorium will allow the Comprehensive Planning Committee to study windmills and to make recommendations for future zoning in the town,” said Councilor Peter Glushko, who was sitting in as deputy supervisor in the absence of Supervisor Kenneth Jahn.
Curtin added that the town is neither against nor in favor of the concept of windmills, but the moratorium will allow officials to become more educated about the structures.
Several members of the town’s Planning and Zoning boards planned to attend a workshop on windmills being held by the county.
The Comprehensive Planning Committee, comprised of Town Council members, Planning and Zoning board members and town residents, has been charged with updating the town’s zoning laws. The group has been working on the update for a couple of years now but has not yet looked at windmills.
“This is a learning process for the town government,” Glushko said. “It will take some time to do, but, with the moratorium in place, it will give us the time we need.”
One resident asked if there would be any financial benefit to the town if a windmill farm was allowed to open in Peru. Curtin said the town would benefit from an increase in taxes but not from profits from the wind farm itself.
Another resident noted that it was fine to consider new alternatives for energy, but the need for more conservation also needed to be addressed. The councilors agreed with that concept but added that much has to be learned to determine the future of windmills in Peru.
“We want to be fair to both sides,” said Councilor and Supervisor-elect Donald Covel. “This one-year moratorium will allow us to do just that.”
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