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Towns seeking wind zoning advice  

With industrial wind farm developments on the horizon in the north county, town supervisors are reaching out to Jefferson County government for help.

The Jefferson County Town Supervisors Association has asked the county planning office to present examples of zoning laws for turbines at an upcoming meeting, said County Planning Director Donald R. Canfield. While the county cannot implement zoning for municipalities, it can offer advice if called upon.

F. Sampie Sutton, president of the association and Alexandria supervisor, said county guidelines for wind farm development would be helpful, and other supervisors agree.

The supervisors’ call for help comes just a week after Save the River and the Thousand Islands Land Trust asked for a comprehensive review of proposed wind farms throughout the county and north country.

There are wind farms proposed in the towns of Cape Vincent, Lyme and Clayton. Another project is proposed on Canada’s Wolfe Island, which is visible from Cape Vincent. Developers also are investigating the possibility of a wind farm in Hammond, St. Lawrence County.

Leo K. Thompson, Brownville supervisor, said the municipality has been working on drafting zoning regulations for wind turbines for about six months, and would appreciate a leg up from the county in the lengthy process.

While there has been no proposal for a wind farm in Brownville, BP Alternative Energy has erected a test tower on Case Road between routes 12 and 12E in the town, Mr. Thompson said.

“It might be nice if we had some countywide regulations so every damned town in the county isn’t reinventing the wheel,” Mr. Thompson said.

Cheryl K. Horton, Philadelphia supervisor, believes it would be difficult for a wind farm to come to her town because of its proximity to Fort Drum’s airport. Still, Mrs. Horton believes the county could play a role in researching what municipalities can expect in terms of payments in lieu of taxes for wind farm developments.

Justin A. Taylor, Clayton supervisor, said his community already has shared some of its research on PILOTs with the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

Local governments that have been dealing with wind farm issues for the past few years already have a strong knowledge base, he said. Mr. Taylor added that the county would be a good clearinghouse for information.

“I’m sure any supervisor would want to glean more information,” he said. “I’m finding these PILOTs are very different, looking around the state.”

County Legislator Robert J. Thomas, R-Glen Park, who represents Brownville, said that while the Legislature cannot enact a countywide zoning law, it should offer guidelines for wind farm development in the hopes that local municipalities will jump on the bandwagon.

“We have an obligation,” he said. “We have a planning department that does very good work.”

Both Mr. Thomas and Legislator Michael J. Docteur, R-Cape Vincent, said the county could help, especially with research related to PILOT agreements.

“It certainly would be beneficial to the county to do research for PILOT programs,” Mr. Docteur said.

By Kelly Vadney

Publication: Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY)

Publication Date: 06/27/2007

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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