Wind will figure into the majority of discussion at tonight’s Hornellsville town board meeting.
The board, which will meet at 7 p.m., will discuss the town’s draft wind law, presented to it at last month’s board meeting by lawyer Dan Spitzer. The 23-page document is undergoing further review by both the town board and town’s planning board, Supervisor Ken Isaman said, and he expects that to be the focus of the board at the meeting.
“There aren’t really any heavy issues right now,” he said. “There’s not much on the agenda, other than discussion of the wind law.”
There will not be a vote tonight, Isaman said, adding a public hearing would take place before the board took any action on the law. He also said the boards – town and planning – need to make sure the law has all the pieces in place to protect Hornellsville.
“We’ll review it, the planning board will review it,” Isaman said. “Then we’ll (the town board) get together with the planning board to go over it.”
He said setback distances – among other items in the law – are still being discussed.
After last month’s meeting, Spitzer said the purpose of the law he drafted was to make sure the town was protected, and Hornellsville officials would be able to see what kind of impact wind turbines would have on the community.
“The goal of the law is not so much to say this is what you will do, as it is that this is what we want to know before we will let you do anything,” Spitzer said. “For example, a lot of laws I’ve seen say the company’s got to do an environmental review. This law says they’re going to do a review and they’re going to specifically look at this.”
Another piece Isaman said the board is including in its discussion on wind farms in the town is the potential passage of Article X. The legislation being worked on by the state Senate and Assembly to regulate energy production in New York.
“The Article X legislation hasn’t passed, but it hasn’t gone away,” Isaman said, “so, we’ll try to be mindful of that as well.”
State Sen. George Winner, R-Elmira, is part of the conference committee comprised of Senate and Assembly members to come up with a joint bill. He said the two bodies are “very far apart” in terms of coming to terms on a joint offering. The bulk of the bills deal with natural gas and clean air standards, he said last month, but wind energy could be impacted as well.
“To the extent that a wind project would exceed – in the Senate bill – a 50-megawatt level,” Winner said then, adding the Assembly bill calls for regulations to kick in at the 30-megawatt level. “It would obviously be subject to Article X.”
Winner said the conference committee is trying to figure that out and how municipalities’ rights to impact fees could be preserved. He said the new legislation would have no negative impact on Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreements being worked on in local municipalities for wind farms. He touted a provision in the legislation that would allow local residents to have a voice through “intervenor funds,” that would be available to groups opposing development, and municipalities would be eligible to receive up to 50 percent of the intervenor funds – if they apply for it – under the proposal.
Developers would be required to pay $100,000 to the intervenor fund on its pre-application stage, with ability for another $25,000 to be requested at the pre-application or application stage, Winner said. He said projects that exceed the 80-megawatt level would be required to cough up another $500,000.
By Rob Montana
10 July 2007
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