State or no state, the Town of Hornellsville is moving forward on adopting its local wind law.
Despite the prospect of the state Assembly and Senate approving Article X legislation, which would regulate power in New York – including wind farms with more than a set limit of megawatts – the Hornellsville town board discussed a draft of its wind law at the board meeting Tuesday night.
Few changes have been made to the law, drawn up by lawyer Dan Spitzer, but Councilman Roger Schulitz said it’s still an ongoing process.
“We’re still looking at it further,” he said.
No vote was taken on the law, expected to be put up for vote later this summer or in early fall, and it will be discussed by the planning board again at its next meeting. Supervisor Ken Isaman said the town and planning boards will likely meet to hammer out any changes board members determine need to be made, and a public hearing would be required prior to adoption of the law.
Isaman did discuss Article X with the board.
“Anytime local control is taken away, particularly when local government doesn’t know legislation is in the works, is kind of a disheartening situation,” he said when he learned of the possibility of state stepping into the wind legislation fray. “We in Steuben County that have projects have worked very hard to put together a package that reimburses the towns quite well for the transformation of our towns into windmill territory.”
State Sen. George Winner, R-Elmira, is part of the conference committee comprised of Senate and Assembly members to come up with a joint Article X bill. The bulk of the bill deals with natural gas and clean air standards, he said last month, but wind energy could be impacted as well. He said the conference committee is trying to figure that out and how municipalities’ rights to impact fees could be preserved.
While he was unsure what the bill would mean for impact fees, Winner has 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.
The board approved a resolution in opposition of the potential Article X legislation, and copies will be forwarded to all the state legislators covering the town.
“We’ve definitely got to keep our eye on how that flows,” said Councilman William Giese. “We’ll watch it, but I think we still have to go ahead and pass our local legislation.”
In other business, the board thanked John Buchko, who has resigned, for his many years of service on the town’s planning board.
By Rob Montana
11 July 2007
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