The Casco Town Board, which approved a conditional use permit a year ago for five wind turbines a half-mile north of Slovan for Robin Urban, tabled action Monday night until its July meeting on whether to grant a conditional permit for two more wind turbines across County E on the Ronald and Elaine Flavion property as part of the Urban Power I Site.
Urban indicated the wind turbines would be 365 high. He said a problem is that the town’s zoning ordinance requires a setback two times (2x) the height of the turbines meaning the turbines would have to be at least 730 feet apart from each other rather than the state’s model ordinance of 1.1 times the height, which would be 401 feet. The state also requires the turbines be 1,000 feet away from any residence (house, not farm buildings).
“If I use your current ordinance, it would be illegal for me to build (on the Flavion property),” Urban said. “If it would match the state’s model ordinance, it wouldn’t be an issue.”
Town Chairman Joe Lukes said the town “put the two times the height or 1,000 feet” stipulation into their ordinance at the recommendation of the town attorney.
“You might ask him if it will stand up against state law,” Urban said. “I say change your ordinance and there won’t be any future ramifications. I’m not asking for anything special. The state wants everyone to be on board.”
Urban said the state’s model ordinance “has been on the books since 1983. The reason is they want people to build wind (mills or turbines).”
On June 6, the Casco Town Planning and Zoning Committee held a public hearing on the two additional wind turbines. A neighbor, Dean Smerchek, expressed opposition to the turbines, citing possible health and safety risks, according to Zoning Administrator Edith Lauscher. The committee, by a 3-2 vote, recommended approval of granting the permit to the board.
Town Supervisor Barry Fenendael said Urban why he was seeking a permit for two more turbines “when you haven’t even broken land on the others yet.”
Urban said there is a shortage of 350-ton cranes necessary to put the power cells on top of the turbines. He said it made sense to put up the extra two turbines at the same time.
Urban was asked why he didn’t have exact locations on the proposed wind turbines for the Flavion property. Lukes said, “I would like exact numbers.” Urban said the state doesn’t require him to, but he will try to get the necessary information from the engineers after consulting meteorologists.
Urban said he believed there was opposition “because some people don’t want (turbines) in their back yard.”
Smerchek said, “I take offense to the ‘not in my backyard.’ I have a problem with safety. I worry about my children’s health.”
Smerchek also expressed concern that the turbines would interfere with transmission of the 911 tower on possible fire calls.
Lukes said he would try to have the town attorney at the next meeting.
By Lee Lawrenz
19 June 2007