ALLEGANY – The comments ranged from concerns that a low-frequency noise from wind farms could create health issues for residents to a hope that they will save the community in energy costs.
These and other comments were heard by the town of Allegany Planning Board during Monday’s public hearing on a proposed draft for regulations on wind energy.
In August, the town of Allegany board opted to do a year-long study on a proposal for a windmill farm in the community. The study was in response to interests expressed by the Everpower Renewables company in Manhattan, which is looking at the town of Allegany to build a wind turbine farm.
At Monday’s meeting at the Allegany Senior Center, Planning Board Supervisor John Hare said the purpose of the hearing was to garner input from residents on a draft that has been written for wind energy regulations.
The regulations would allow wind energy farms to be located in areas of the town that are in agricultural-forestry zoning districts.
Mr. Hare said if wind turbines were placed in the area, they could be erected on the top of the highest ridges such as the old Ski Wing resort on Five Mile Road or Rock City Hill ridges.
“Problematically, those would be the kind of areas you would see someone taking an interest in that kind of a project, if it was of a commercial nature,” Mr. Hare said.
One of the audience members to comment was Gary Abraham of Allegany, who said he has been involved in a citizen’s group that opposed wind turbines to be erected in Centerville.
“There are a couple of potential issues here. These wind farms create very loud noise at a low frequency that is inaudible,” Mr. Abraham said. “Those low-frequency sounds have an impact on the body and the brain which are responding to pulses you can’t even hear.”
He said the turbines also create shadow flickers that can irritate and disorient people. Therefore, Mr. Abraham said he believes setbacks as far as one mile are needed for the turbines.
In addition, Mr. Abraham said he believes an environmental impact study needs to be done before any project takes place.
Mr. Hare noted that the language in the draft requires that an environmental impact study be done.
Andrew Golembeski of Everpower Renewables discounted much of what Mr. Abraham said.
“This gentleman just rambled on and said many things trying to instill fear in people, from what I see,” Mr. Golembeski said, referring to noise that cannot be heard and shadow flickers.
Mr. Golembeski suggested officials talk to residents in southern Wyoming County where wind farms are currently located. He said he believes they will not hear many complaints.
Another Allegany resident, Ron Demettier, said the community needs to look at the alternative to wind energy, which is burning fossil fuels.
“The alternatives are to burn more coal, more oil and natural gas,” Mr. Demettier said. He said that the information he has read on wind turbine farms indicates that they are relatively quiet and efficient.
“Having a wind farm is the equivalent of taking so many pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air,” he said.
The board decided to table the matter to consider some of the comments made at the public hearing, as well as insurance issues involving a turbine farm. The draft will be reviewed and considered for approval at the April 16 meeting.
By Kate Day Sager
Olean Times Herald
13 March 2007
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