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Pressure on Hamlin's wind tower committee to formulate guidelines  

Time has become more of the essence with decisions needing to be made on where – or even whether – to place wind towers within the boundaries of Hamlin.

Town officials, earlier this year, had put together a wind tower committee that was charged with researching the pros and cons of wind tower placement within the town’s limits. The committee came about after two MET (meteorological test towers) were installed in early 2006. The towers measure wind speed and velocity and are used to gauge whether an area is conducive to wind tower/turbine installation.

Community members are divided on the issue with both sides citing reasons why the towers are either detrimental or would be beneficial to the community.

“Like most towns in the state, we were not prepared for this. We had no local laws regulating wind towers or any meaningful research to determine whether the towers would be in the best interest of the town,” Supervisor Dennis Roach wrote on the town’s website.

Whether the community is ready or not may become moot if Article X is passed by state officials. “Part of the public service law for installation of power generation plants expired in December 2002,” Roach said. “Since that time, any power generation facility that has been sited in a municipality has been done so under that municipality’s local law. The local law provided local control.”

If Article X is resurrected, which Roach said according to elected officials seems imminent, local law would fall by the wayside and a seven member state appointed committee would review applications for siting of wind towers. “There is supposed to be a local person on the committee, but local could mean from the county, not necessarily the community in which tower installation was being requested,” he said. “If this happens, we will have no control or say in zoning of where towers go and there will be the added detrimental impact of the loss of community host payments and that is one of the biggest benefits of wind towers to a town.”

In a conversation following the July 16 board meeting, Roach said the, “Hamlin Town Board took drastic action at last night’s meeting in an attempt to get wind tower regulations in place before state passage of Article X. I challenged both the town board and the Wind Tower Committee to tell me how we could take the information already gathered through the extensive efforts of the Wind Tower Commitee and translate it into regulations, which we could have enacted before Article X is passed. I essentially said, ‘we’re going to general quarters’ to get this done! Can you do it?’ ”

Roach said he had provided the committee members with information on Article X but knows he caught them off guard with the challenge to get regulations drafted now. “Despite the abrupt notice, the committee and board rose to the challenge. Taking a short recess to confer, the committee advised the town board that they had previously reached consensus on two of the biggest, contentious items – noise and shadow flicker – both setback concerns.”

The committee was asked to discuss the issues at its next meeting and report back to the town board at the July 30 board meeting.

In an e-mail Roach wrote: “We are definitely working under a compressed time frame. Fortunately, the Wind Tower Committee has done much research and is well aware of the concerns and issues. It will now be up to the town board to put these into defensible regulations before Article X is enacted.

“We really had no other choice,” said Roach. “If we didn’t take action now, we would have been left with no control and little opportunity to benefit from the siting of wind towers in the town. As it is, we will still be pressed to beat the enactment of Article X.”

Regardless of how quickly the wind tower committee members come back to the board with recommendations, getting local laws passed will be a lengthy process filled with the need to host public hearings. “We are hoping to have something in place by the first of October,” he said.

Westside News

15 July 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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