Stamford board passes moratorium; Bovina residents seek renewal of ban
By Jake Palmateer
The town of Stamford is the latest area community to halt commercial wind-farm development.
A moratorium passed by the Stamford Town Board last week is likely a prelude to a local law regulating the giant turbines, a councilwoman said Sunday.
“The purpose of the moratorium is to give us time to look at which legislation is legal,” Councilwoman Katherine M. Engert said. “It came together within a month. We had a huge uprising here.”
The moratorium was drafted after hearing from as many as 70 constituents, most of whom are opposed to commercial wind farms, who have attended meetings since June, Engert said.
Land-use agreements with Chicago-based Invenergy LLC have already been signed by some residents who own property on higher elevations in the town, Engert said.
“They have been very persistent,” Engert said.
No site plan from Invenergy has been submitted to the town of Stamford, Engert said.
Several other Delaware County towns and the Otsego County town of Cherry Valley have imposed their own moratoriums designed to stall wind-farm development.
But another Delaware County town’s moratorium is set to expire in October, and residents there are calling for officials to pass a law preventing such projects.
“There are some companies looking at Bovina, but there are no specifics,” Bovina Town Councilman Ken Brown said.
Stamford borders Bovina to the northeast, and wind farm developers are speculating on a ridge line between the two towns.
The Alliance for Bovina, a grass-roots organization against commercial wind farms, met over the weekend and officials with the group said Sunday they are lobbying the town to pass a law regulating wind farms.
Brown said there is no draft wind-farm legislation on the table.
“We are in a moratorium,” Brown said. “We are not at that point yet.”
Bovina’s moratorium expires Oct. 28.
Bovina Town Councilman Randall Inman said the town board and town planners will be holding an unusual joint meeting at 6 tonight in the Bovina Town Hall in Bovina Center. Inman said the meeting, unlike a more open meeting held earlier this month, is a workshop meeting open to the public, but not to public comment.
“We will probably be looking to extend the moratorium,” Inman said. “We’re working on trying to gather the pros and cons. Either way, we’ve been told we’ll probably end up in a lawsuit.”
Inman said there has also been talk about conducting a survey of property owners within Bovina on the issue.
Nancy Haycock, of Hobart, which is within the town of Stamford, said it was a struggle to get the moratorium passed in her town.
But it’s a common struggle in the county, she said.
“We’re all going through the same thing at the same time,” Haycock said. “This stuff is very complicated.”
Haycock said there are concerns over noise pollution from towers more than 400 feet tall, property devaluation, clear-cutting of trees and shadow casting.
“We believe the scale of it is inappropriate to a small rural place like Stamford,” Haycock said.
Proponents of the wind farms are motivated by the $3,000 to $8,000 the companies will pay to lease the land for each tower, Haycock said.
“It think it’s just straight economics,” Haycock said.
Haycock said that ideally, Stamford, Bovina and the other area towns facing wind-farm development need to adopt local laws preventing commercial projects.
“There are also towns like Malone, N.Y., that have really passed a first-rate ordinance,” Haycock said.
The Franklin County town passed a local law May 24 that limits tower heights to 85 feet on nonagricultural land and 100 feet on agricultural land – but only if the power generated is for on-site consumption.
Malone Town Councilman Jack Sullivan said the law is designed to prevent commercial wind-farm development.
“We specifically allow home-use and farm-use (wind turbines),” Sullivan said Sunday night.
Sullivan said Malone is one of three towns he knows of in the state of that have such a strict wind-tower policy.
“We have had a lot of inquiries about our ordinance, and we have sent out a lot of copies,” Sullivan said.
Chicago-based Invenergy officials could not be reached by phone Sunday, and a local representative was not at home. But according to the company’s website, a modern wind farm at a distance of 750 to 1,000 feet is no noisier than a kitchen refrigerator. However, the website indicates that in hilly terrain, the turbines may be more audible to residents in sheltered hollows downwind from the towers.
The company also says there is no evidence that property devaluation occurs around wind farms and the impact to wildlife is minimal.
Invenergy also predicts that in 14 years, 25 million homes will be served by wind energy. Today, wind power provides electricity to 1.6 million homes, the company says.
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