Calm voices prevailed at the Arkwright Town Board meeting as civil opinions were exchanged about the proposed commercial wind energy project that has been the subject of heated discussions in the past.
Supervisor Fred Norton opened the meeting with a public hearing on a three-month extension of the town’s existing moratorium on commercial wind tower construction.
“˜”˜We have yet to pass a local law governing this construction and the current moratorium expires Jan. 7,” he explained.
As usual, the town hall was full of individuals, but none of them had any comment to make on the moratorium extension.
After the hearing was closed, Councilman Dan Dietzen asked Norton to allow the audience to comment.
“˜”˜I want to hear what these people think about the wind generators,” he said.
Jim Potter said he believes the increase in the setbacks included in the proposed law “˜”˜coddle a vocal minority” and will take away 30 to 35 percent of the project proposed in Arkwright.
“˜”˜It could make or break many smaller landowners and have an impact on the town’s taxpayers,” he said. “˜”˜You can’t satisfy everyone in this situation.”
Dave Lawson agreed.
“˜”˜The proposed setbacks are the most stringent in Chautauqua County,” he said.
Claude McAvoy asked the Town Board to “˜”˜peel back” the setbacks to the original ones proposed in the draft local law while Elizabeth Booth spoke in favor of greater setbacks.
“˜”˜Recent law passed by other municipalities call for greater setbacks particularly in highly populated, parcelized areas,” she said.
The town’s original figures included a 1,200 foot setback from residences and 500 feet from side boundary property lines and public roads.
The changes approved by the board included a more specific definition of seasonal residences and increasing setbacks to 750 feet from the nearest site boundary property line; 750 feet from the nearest public road; 500 feet from state, county or village owned land; 1,400 feet from the nearest off-site residence existing at the time of application, measured from the exterior of the residence.
Councilman Larry Ball said he has received a number of letters regarding the setbacks.
“˜”˜A lot of people will suffer because of the proposed increased setback footage and I think we should withdraw the changes and keep the original ones,” he said.
He also proposed restoring the noise level to 50dBA from the 48 dBA amendment.
“˜”˜I have looked into the effects wind turbines have had on other communities and have found no detrimental or life threatening events,” he said.
Councilmen Jeff Dietrich and Roger Prince both opposed Ball’s changes.
After the public hearing on the original proposed local law, Prince said he was comfortable with the changes that the board asked to be incorporated into the new draft law.
“˜”˜I think the revisions make the law tighter and offer greater protection for the landowners,” he said.
Dietrich also thinks greater set back figures are needed.
“˜”˜I think cutting them back is catering to the wind companies at the expense of the town’s people,” he said.
When it came to a vote, Ball, Councilman Dan Dietzen and Supervisor Norton all agreed to have the lower setback figures included in the proposed law.
Prince and Deitrich voted against the change. “˜”˜I think the board made a poor choice tonight,” Dietrich said.
By Joan Josephson
Special to The Post-Journal
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