OLEAN – The Allegany Town Board will continue to consider written comments through July 18 on a proposed zoning amendment that would set standards for wind energy production facilities.
About 30 people attended the Town Board’s public hearing on the amendment Tuesday night, and only one of the eight who commented on the proposal supported it without asking for significant changes in wording or expressing opposition to commercial wind farms in the town. In addition, a couple of possible changes were suggested by Town Board members.
Town Supervisor Patrick H. Eaton said the town Planning Board has completed its work of drafting the zoning amendment and the Town Board can now make revisions or send it back to the Planning Board.
“If this rewrite becomes so major, by law I might have to run it by the attorney,” he told the board.
Several comments addressed the amendment’s 1,000-foot setback of wind turbines from homes and others stated noise will be a problem. Preservation of views and rural character, along with protection of birds and bats were also requested. One Town Board member said he would like to see the 15-foot distance lengthened to at least 25 feet between the ground and the turbine blade.
Officials agreed to address a discrepancy in the amendment’s allowable three-decibel increase in noise in response to one comment that the provision covers a 1,000 foot distance from homes in one part of the law but has no limitation in another section.
Eaton said the board will consider suggestions to improve the law, which came with an offer of technical assistance from the Cattaraugus County Planning Board.
Town Planner Carol Horowitz, who worked with the Planning Board in drafting the law based on “a fair amount of research” and information provided by residents, said she will take direction from the Town Board for the next step.
“It’s a well thought-out document which sets up a process and if we should ever receive an application the applicant must do appropriate studies,” she said.
Town Planning Board Chairman Michael Hare said many of the comments were what he anticipated, in reaction to the proposed amendment and he expressed the hope that the Town Board will decide to send the document back to the Planning Board for revisions.
Some asked for an extension of the comment deadline due to the timing of the hearing on the eve of a national holiday.
The proposed amendment will come up again for discussion at the July 31 Town Board meeting. One company, Everpower, has expressed an interest in placing turbines on Chipmonk Road, but no formal application has been submitted.
By Kathy Kellogg
4 July 2007
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