After hearing no opposition during the Town of Pomfret public hearing Wednesday evening the board is free to move forward with enacting its Wind Energy Conversion System plan. To do so however, they will be clearing up a few definition concerns addressed by Town Attorney Jeff Passafaro.
Passafaro’s main concern within the 23-page document was the wording for non-commercial small WECS plans and the zoning that encompasses them. Currently the plan, depending on how it’s read, shows a discrepancy between commercial being limited to AR1 districts with an overlay zone, and whether or not small WECS are limited only to AR1 seeing as they do not require an overlay zone.
“The definition of an AR1 is that it’s a zone that encompasses underlying zones, so more than one zone,” Supervisor Don Steger said. “Later on in the plan, it says that they are only approved for AR1. And I think there is a little confusion; I think the intent was specifically to exclude large scale commercial only to AR1 districts with an overlay zone so we know specifically which areas it will be in. Whereas with a small WECS, it’s confusing whether they are just limited to the AR1 and there is not an overlay zone required for a small one so there’s a discrepancy in definitions.”
According to Passafaro, small WECS consist of systems that do not generate more than 10 kilowatts and are limited to 65 feet in height, or 80 feet if on five acres of property. Steger was concerned that the wording regarding the small WECS could limit those who would benefit and want the windmill the most.
“Under the purpose and intent of small WECS, it is to provide standards for these systems designed for home, farm and small commercial use on the same parcel,” he said. “There is only a reference to farm “¦ and again, our intent was to keep commercial WECS up on the hill but you don’t want to restrict the farmers down on the plateau and on the lake. And according to this we can’t restrict the commercial user, they just have to have enough property to do it.”
The board was not able to act on the plan during its regular meeting as they are still awaiting the SEQR from the Chautauqua County Planning Board. However, Councilwoman Pat Christina informed the board that after speaking with Doug Jacobs of the Chautauqua County Planning Board, the Town Board has the right to approve the plan before the end of June.
“I had a lengthy conversation with Doug Jacobs of the Chautauqua County Planning Board and he did make it clear that by the 22nd of June, if we have not heard from the county, we are empowered by the state to enact this law if we so choose,” she said.
The SEQR from the county was expected back by June 22, but due to limited manpower and overwhelming applications the county is not positive it will meet its 30-day deadline. The board will be holding a special meeting on Friday, June 22 at 4:00 pm. at Town Hall to discuss the WECS plan and possibly act upon it with its amended changes. The town’s moratorium is set to expire on June 24, 2007.
By Michael Rukavina
14 June 2007