What had been expected to be a routine meeting of the Allegany Planning Board turned into a packed gathering of residents concerned with the possibility of a wind turbine farm moving into the community.
During Monday’s gathering more than 50 residents crammed into the small town hall meeting room and listened patiently for close to an hour as the Planning Board discussed possible wind energy regulations it will ask the Allegany Town Board to put into law.
Planning Board members said they had not expected such a large crowd for the discussion. The crowd may have been in response to a flier circulated by the Allegany Wind Farm Committee, a concerned citizen’s group, which stated it’s against wind farms from moving into the area and requested residents attend the meeting.
In July of 2006, the Town Board adopted a one-year moratorium that suspends activity of wind farms moving into agricultural-forestry zoning districts in the community until the Planning Board can research the matter.
John Hare, chairman of the Planning Board, said the town was advised to put a moratorium in place to determine what other towns have done to regulate wind farms before they move in. He said the Town Board could extend the moratorium if it thought it didn’t have enough information on wind turbine farms and their potential impact on the community.
Don Black, a spokesperson for the citizen’s group, questioned the Planning Board on what they have done regarding studies or field trips to regional wind farms since the moratorium was enacted.
“There’s a lot involved here … We can’t leave it up to the power company to let them make a decision whether they should do a study or not,” Mr. Black said. “Once they’re in town, they’re here.”
Mr. Hare said the Planning Board has been designing recommendations and a formula that would be followed by any company that would try to move in.
“It would be there to protect the town and there to protect the citizens,” Mr. Hare said.
It was noted that the Planning Board held a public hearing in March to hear comments, concerns and suggestions from the community. With those comments in mind, Town Planner Carol Horowitz put together a draft document on possible wind turbine regulations that will eventually be presented to the Town Board to enact into law. One company, Everpower Renewables, has attended a couple of meetings over the past year and has expressed an interest in developing a wind turbine farm in the community.
“This isn’t a public hearing. We held it (in March) to get feedback from the community and there were a handful of people who stated their feelings,” Mr. Hare told those in attendance.
“I was not obligated to listen to you tonight, but I chose to as a good citizen,” he said.
During the review of the draft document, the Planning Board suggested consultants should be brought in to review matters such as noise and setback issues.
On the setback issue, Mrs. Horowitz said some communities have adopted laws requiring windmills to be placed approximately 1,000 feet from property lines and year-round residences. The Planning Board suggested the setback and noise issues should be site-specific because there would be different ramifications for wind turbines located on Rock City Hill as compared to Five Mile Road or the Chipmonk area.
A woman in the audience said she didn’t think the 1,000-foot setback was enough space between the wind turbines and homes.
“Will that be something you (the Planning Board) sets because I don’t think it’s far enough,” the woman said.
Another woman said she had lived in the San Francisco area near a wind turbine farm and said they were “quite big and quite intrusive.”
Ron Kyser, a land owner in Allegany, said he would be willing to have windmills set up on his timber property.
“Any revenue we can generate is going to help with our taxes,” he said. “If it is something that would work, I’m not against it.”
Another resident, Ron DeMattio, said he also would be in favor of alternative energy sources such as wind turbine farms.
“I think there is a lot of misinformation out there and they’re getting a lot of people scared,” Mr. DeMattio said.
The regulations are posted on the town’s Web site at www.allegany.org. The link is located on the Town of Allegany Planning Board page which can be reached by clicking on Town Government. Visitors then need to click on Town Governing Boards and then click on Proposed Wind Energy Regulations.
By Kate Day Sager
Olean Times Herald
17 April 2007
Direct link to proposed wind energy regulations (PDF download): wind_law_draft_2-13-07
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