After hearing what the public had to say about its wind energy law in July, the Town of Hartsville had some changes to make.
Those changes are in, and the law has tightened up some language, increased setback distances, made some changes to sound levels and pumped up the permit fee for commercial wind turbines. It was announced at Monday’s town board meeting the law would be available for viewing or a copy could be purchased at the town clerk’s office, and a public hearing on the legislation will take place at 7 p.m. March 15 at the town hall. It is expected the board will vote on the law at the conclusion of the public hearing.
Deputy Supervisor Gene Garrison doesn’t think that many changes were made, but feels the law is very strong in its intent to protect town residents. He also noted that amendments may be made to the law down the road if the town board feels the need for it.
“I want to make sure this does not affect anybody’s lease,” Garrison said. “This pretty well covers a whole lot of ground and protects the whole town.
“It also protects the developer, so they know where they stand,” he added.
Garrison credited Councilman James Perry will getting a lot of the legwork done, taking over that responsibility after then-Deputy Supervisor George Prior resigned his post.
“I’ve helped out some, but he’s done a lot of it,” Garrison said.
l A circle drawn on the plans showing 1.3 times the tower height, which was not included in the first law.
l Sound pressure level shall not exceed 6 decibels above ambient sound levels measured at the nearest off-site residence. In the first draft, it stated the sound level should not be more than 50 decibels, and if the ambient sound level was more than 50 decibels, the sound of the turbines should not exceed 6 decibels more than that.
l The setback distance was increased to 1,200 feet from off-site residences, as well as 1.3 times the tower height from boundary property lines, rights-of-way for all public roads, from above-ground utilities – unless waived by utility companies – and from off-site cabins. The setbacks previously were 1,000 from off-site residences, and 1.1 times the tower height for the others.
l For small wind turbines, the maximum power output is 100 kilowatts, increased from 10 kilowatts in the first draft. Other changes for small wind turbines include the increase of the setback to 1.3 times the tower height from property lines – up from 1.1 times the height – and the noise level was decreased to 6 decibels, down from 50 decibels in the first draft.
l The permit fee for a large wind turbine is now $250, up from $50 in the first draft.
l The new draft has included a provision for the town to opt out of a tax exemption for a wind farm, allowing all turbines expected to be constructed to be taxed at the full assessed amount.
The setback distance increase was something residents pushed for, and vocal critic Steve Dombert offered the 1,200 feet at the last public hearing, which took place in July 2006. Garrison said that change was made because the town was given the impression Steuben County would be imposing that as a minimum distance.
“The other thing was the change the decibels to try and appease some of the people,” he said. “Jim’s (Perry) been getting some pressure on top of the hill, and I don’t think anybody should be putting pressure on any board members.”
By Rob Montana
21 February 2007
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