September 19, 2006
New York

CV law could shutter wind

A proposed ordinance that would govern how wind turbines are placed in Cherry Valley is unworkable, according to David Little, project manager for Reunion Power.

“It basically would guarantee there won’t be a wind farm in Cherry Valley,” he said Monday.

Reunion, based in Manchester, Vt., has proposed erecting 24 wind turbines on East Hill in the town. But Little said none of the towers in the $100 million project will go up if the town adopts the wind ordinance proposed by the Cherry Valley Planning Board.

At issue are setbacks and maximum allowed noise levels in the proposed law, Little said. The law stipulates that turbines would have to be at least 2,000 feet from the nearest off-site residence, school or church, and 1,200 feet from the nearest lot line. It also calls for noise levels to be less than six decibels higher than ambient levels at lot lines.

“I don’t understand the noise provision unless they want to make sure a property owner doesn’t hear a whoosh when he’s walking his border,” Little said.

Little said he has looked at the approximate 1,200 acres that Reunion has options to lease and found that almost none of the land would work for a wind farm under the proposed law.

“We’ve tried to work with town officials and we’re still trying to work with them, but these requirements are much more stringent than anything I’ve seen,” Little said.

Jeffrey Wait, planning board chairman, defended the proposed law Monday, saying it is an attempt to safeguard the interest of the town’s residents.

The proposal was approved by a majority of the Planning Board’s seven members and will be considered by the Cherry Valley Town Board.

A public hearing on the proposed law will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Cherry Valley Community Center, Councilman Fabian Bressett III said.

Earlier this summer, the town held a public hearing on a proposed building moratorium, which drew about 200 people. Bressett said he wouldn’t be surprised to see another large crowd attend next Monday’s hearing.

“I was surprised when I saw the setback requirements, because they seemed way out of line, but I haven’t spoken to the planning board members yet to understand their thinking,” he said.

Before making up his mind about the proposal, Bressett said, he wants to hear what others think.

The town board will not be voting on the proposed law on the night of the public hearing, but will deliberate and vote later, he said.

“We hadn’t set a date for that at our last meeting,” he said.

Andrew Minnig, of Cherry Valley, a member of the Cherry Valley Advocates, which has opposed construction of wind turbines on East Hill, said he likes the proposed law.

“You have to realize that many of the so-called standards for setbacks and noise were developed by the wind industry, and they don’t apply here,” he said.

While the setbacks required elsewhere may seem reasonable in flat areas, Cherry Valley is hilly and the turbines would be setting on hillsides or hilltops, he noted.

“If the turbine is 400 feet tall, but sitting 300 feet up a hill, you’re really dealing with a 700-foot turbine,” Minnig said. “These things can catch fire or fall over, and it’s reasonable to keep them away from residences.”

Minnig said many members of the Advocates plan to attend and speak at the pubic hearing.

Marion Trieste, a consultant for Reunion, said the firm is asking Cherry Valley residents who support the project to make their opinions known.

“I think there are a lot of people who want the benefits the project would provide, like a 25 percent reduction on their electric bills, and money for the town and school, but they aren’t public speakers and don’t want to go to another hearing,” she said. “It’s still important for them to let the town b

By Tom Grace

Cooperstown Bureau

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