Public comment was weighted heavily in favor of adopting Cherry Valley’s proposed wind ordinance during a public hearing Monday evening.
If adopted as currently written, the ordinance “would make it impossible for any developer to site even a single windmill on the East Hill,” according to David Little, the project manager for Reunion Power which wants to erect 24 wind turbines on East Hill.
In a letter to the town board earlier this month, Little claimed noise limits and the required setbacks from property lines and residences was “by far in excess of standards contained in any scientifically-based ordinances or local laws that have been passed by at least fifteen other communities within the state of New York.”
The ordinance, developed by the town planning board and its consultants, calls for a 1,200-foot setback from property lines and 2,000-foot setback from residences for the wind turbines.
“We believe that the larger setbacks are both reasonable and necessary to protect adjacent landowners from the potential impact of such large industrial projects,” stated a letter from the planning board to the supervisor and town council.
During Monday night’s hearing, Little commented they were not asking the town to compromise its standards, but to strike a balance that would allow development of wind energy in the town while protecting its residents.
Also testifying Monday was Steven Eisenberg, managing director of Reunion Power, which has offices in Ramsey, N.J. and Manchester Center, Vt.
Eisenberg told the town board there are elements of the wind ordinance that are out of balance and that they intend to demonstrate the setbacks in the law were “unnecessarily restrictive.”
Diane Wells was one of a majority of residents who commented that they believed the ordinance would protect the town.
“Anything short of these provisions may pose health risks,” she said. “We need to have the right to feel safe and happy on our own property.”
Peter Freehafer commented there is no one-size-fits-all ordinance and that this one fits Cherry Valley and its rural lifestyle. The setbacks, he said, are appropriate and the noise standards mirror the state guidelines.
“If offers a fair and reasoned approach to the placement of 40-story structures,” he said.
Richard Mark said the law was taking away his rights and urged the town board to amend the law. There is no way, he said, that he could put up his own wind generating project.
Patrick Rooney described the proposed ordinance as “excessive regulation” and said he was concerned it had been put together in haste.
Leila Durkin reminded town officials that their decision will shape the character of the town. It is a reasonable plans and any reasonable company will work within its guidelines, she said.
Barbara Perry said the ordinance would not allow the project to be evaluated on its own merits and that if it is adopted, there would be only 16 acres in the town on which turbines could be built.
Some residents of East Hill spoke about the sometimes surprising way and distance sound will travel in the area due of the topography. Because of that, they said, stringent noise standards are necessary.
David Lamouret, who has worked on turbine towers, said after listening to the comments of other town residents that he supported the ordinance.
Patricia Duncan said the ordinance protects the town, but does not preclude wind turbines. “Reunion Power is not entitled to dictate how the wind ordinance is written,” she said.
Daniel Wightman, whose East Hill property would be home to turbines under Reunion’s plan, said that at this stage he doubted if any minds are going to be changed and urged the town board to find the “true will of the people of Cherry Valley.”
Henry Cooper, of Middlefield, said that without the ordinance, Cherry Valley is a “sitting duck” for any wind company that comes along.
“It is you, not Reunion Power that will have to listen to these things,” he said.
Town supervisor Tom Garretson said the board will continue to accept written comments on the proposed wind ordinance until Oct. 10.
He said once all the written comments are in he anticipates holding a special meeting where the board can vote on the issue.
“We’re going to take our time and do it right,” he said.
Garreston agreed that of those people speaking during the hearing, the sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of adopting the ordinance as it is currently written.
In the meantime, Reunion Power has sent a third round of postcards to residents of Cherry Valley. The latest, in addition to asking residents to right letters asking the town board to amend the wind ordinance, invites the public to attend a public education event at the Teen Cafe in the community center on Oct. 5. According to Reunion Power’s postcard, the event will feature independent wind experts who will answer questions about wind laws.
Comments in regard to the wind ordinance may be sent to Cherry Valley Town Clerk, P.O. Box 401, Cherry Valley, N.Y.
By Jim Austin, Editor
[Thursday, September 28, 2006]
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