With the first wind-harvesting plan approved in Beekmantown, the Citizens Wind Advisory Committee recently made formal its recommendations to the Town Council.
The seven-member committee, chosen for its diversity in opinion over wind-power regulation, was appointed by the Town Council in mid 2006. Its mission was to provide recommendations for Beekmantown wind-power regulations in agreement with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
“We divined what we thought the intention of the land-use plan was and how wind turbines would fit into that,” said committee Secretary Michael Morales.
He presented each member of the Town Council with a white copy of the bulky document at its February meeting.
This moves the town one step closer to making a decision on the local law.
The Town Council will review the report at a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at the Town Hall, 571 Spellman Road. The public may attend.
“We decided to center, or focus, on a few matters,” Morales said.
The committee documented the potential impact to areas, such as the character of the community, a revenue perspective and residential property value.
These are the same matters that were petitioned before the Beekmantown Town Zoning Board during Windhorse Power LLC’s request for a conditional-use permit.
Windhorse was expressly written out of the town’s moratorium on wind projects because it had already submitted its proposal.
The moratorium is scheduled to end March 27 but is expected to be extended for nine months at the Town Council’s March meeting.
When looking at the character of the community, the Advisory Committee sought out other towns that have allowed wind-power facilities.
“We tried to understand the motivation that towns might have for (allowing a turbine facility),” Morales said.
From a revenue perspective, the committee tried to “find out what was the best use of an area.”
While Windhorse Power has been allowed a conditional-use permit to build up to 13 turbines in the Rand Hill area of Beekmantown, the committee worried about other companies that might be designated “essential services.”
“We know that essential services are allowed in every area of town,” Morales said.
In their recommendations, committee members gave the council two sample laws: one that allowed wind-turbine facilities and the other, using various laws from other municipalities, provided stringent regulations for companies to follow.
At the meeting, members of the West Beekmantown Neighbors Association expressed concern about the Windhorse Power host agreement with the town.
They suggested that a financial adviser attend negotiations and that the town take it slow.
“I do understand it is to our best advantage to make a careful deal for the residents and people of Beekmantown,” said Town Supervisor Dennis Relation.
They also voiced worry that Beekmantown will not get much of the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes money.
“The county and school district will get the lion’s share of that,” agreed Relation.
The money will go to nearby school districts, not Beekmantown Central School District, because of the wind farm’s location.
In other action, Town Council members were asked if the town is still interested in the preservation of the Culver Hill Monument on Route 22.
New York state Department of Transportation construction will pass through in doing maintenance work of Route 22 from Military Turnpike to the Haynes Road, and some consideration can be made for the historical site.
The town gave its support.
By Lucas Blaise
23 February 2007
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