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Breathing room  

One man’s blessing may be another’s curse. It appears that the border between the towns of Lyme and Cape Vincent may be pointing that out, as the town of Lyme is on the verge of enacting a six-month moratorium on wind farm development to give town officials time to study the ramifications and effects of allowing giant towers and turbines in the community.

If the moratorium is enacted, it could significantly slow down BP Alternative Energy’s proposed two-town wind farm project, much to the consternation of many people in Cape Vincent who have leapt upon the wind power bandwagon without checking for a safety net. This immediately sets them apart from both Clayton and Lyme, where municipal officials have decided to at least take a breath before enthusiastically endorsing the power projects.

A moratorium is not a death sentence for any reasonably proposed wind project; it is merely a way for a municipality to have the time to decide just what controls they need to institute on this invasive land use. It is a reasonable and fairly common response to new proposals, and has been used for such things as establishing a permit process for outdoor furnaces and other invasive uses that from time to time crop up.

The residents of Lyme will be well-served by this moratorium, should the Town Council enact it. For one thing, they will have a reasonable amount of time to study the issue to see if wind farms in general are appropriate for their community. For another, it will allow the council time to decide what controls, if any, they wish to place on wind farm development. They may, for example, wish to establish zones where wind farms are not appropriate ““ Lyme’s many miles of lake shore leap immediately to mind, but there could be many places where the community doesn’t want the towers to be placed. The council may also wish to limit density or place controls on environmental impacts such as noise. All of these issues are important, and all need time for study. Six months, in fact, may not be enough ““ but the town council could extend the moratorium if it deems more study is needed.

A question that will no doubt be asked is why, if Cape Vincent is willing to dive into wind farms without so much as a serious question, should Lyme take this step. I would answer that with another question: Why did Cape Vincent officials not care enough about carefully studying a monumental, irrevocable decision to step back and allow itself time enough to do so?

A cynic might suggest that the difference between Cape Vincent and its neighboring communities is chiefly that none of those officials in Lyme and Clayton allowed themselves to be blinded by the almighty dollar, or placed in a compromising position by accepting wind farm money before the issue even came before them. I am a cynic.

Lyme is doing the right thing if it enacts this moratorium. It does not preclude wind farm development, it just lets the community get in front of the issue, instead of staring at the taillights of a development company that has bulldozed its way through the community, planning process be damned.

posted by Kentsboss


15 March 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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