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Andes planners delay vote on proposal for turbine ban

The Andes Planning Board has delayed voting on whether to recommend to the town board a proposed law that would ban commercial wind turbines.

The board received minor changes to the draft law on Monday evening from the Andes Alliance, a citizens’ group that wants the town to ban commercial wind turbines. The changes were based on input received at a public meeting several weeks ago.

The planners agreed that they would like additional time to review the changes before voting whether to send the proposal to the Andes Town Board with the recommendation that it be adopted as a town law.

Planning Board Chairmand Art Reed said his group would discuss the draft law at its December 13 Wind Workshop and then vote whether to send the proposal to the town board for consideration.

THe Andes Town Board would ultimately make the decision whether or not to enact this proposal as a local town law. A public hearing would be required prior to the enactment of such law.

The Andes Alliance was formed eearly this year and has proposed the local law, similar to one passed in other counties, to assure that commercial wind turbines are not permitted in Andes.

Alliance members feel that the impact of the 400-foot commercial wind turbines would have a devastating effect on the town’s rural character and would creat a negative economic impact. Approximately 1,200 Andes citizens have signed letters asking the town to pass an ordinance banning commercial wind turbines. The local law would permit homeowners, particularly farmers, to utilize smaller windmills to generate power for their own needs.

Marc Gerstman, an attorney representing the Andes Alliance, explained that the planing board does not make the decision on the local law. That task, he noted, would fall to the town board.

“The town board has the duty to propose local laws and to make sure these laws comply,” explained Mr. Gerstman, when asked about the legal aspects of such a proposal.

“The planning board has an advisory role to the town board. The planners’ recomendations can be accepted or rejected by the town board – which would take into account your recommendation and the town attorney’s recommendation.”

Explaining the changes to the draft proposal, Mr. Gerstman noted, “We heard the comments (from the planning board) and tried to reflect those comments.”

The attorney noted that Alliance members are not against wind power in general. They do feel, he pointed out, that placing huge commercial wind turbines on the ridges around Andes will be detrimental to the viewscape and will irreparably harm the tourist and second home economy of the township.

Chairman Reed said that his board the the Andes town attorney will review the updated proposal and vote on making a recommendation at the December 13 meeting which will be held at 7 p.m. at the town hall on Main Street.

By Brian Sweeney

The Catskill Mountain News