Most Lyme residents welcome wind farms, but not necessarily in their own backyards.
According to recent survey results, 52 percent of property owners in Lyme say industrial wind turbine development in town is acceptable, but only 37 percent want turbines in their own neighborhoods.
The town sent out 2,300 surveys to property owners concerning wind power development in August, and saw about a 40 percent rate of return. Of the 916 surveys returned, 913 were complete enough to be used in compiling results, according to Paul E. Carr, a Lyme resident and professor of engineering at Cornell University, Ithaca.
Mr. Carr is volunteering his time to help the town draft a zoning law for wind turbines. The results of the survey will be used to write the law.
“‘Not in my backyard’ is alive and well, even from people who voiced support,” he said. “There’s a gap between those in favor and those that want them in their area.”
The 24-page report, available at the town clerk’s office, contains a copy of the 12-question survey and detailed results.
One company, BP Alternative Energy, is interested in developing a wind farm in Lyme with 30 to 60 turbines. The town has a moratorium on wind farm development while it works on its zoning law.
While 52 percent of respondents find industrial wind turbines acceptable, 27 percent said they are not in favor of turbines and 21 percent said they need more information.
The survey report breaks down where respondents live, and shows whether they would find turbine development in their area acceptable.
The survey identified six areas for possible wind farm development and nine places where respondents live, including three more densely populated areas where turbines would not be proposed – the village of Chaumont, the hamlet of Three Mile Bay and Point Peninsula village.
Based on the results, town officials say there are two areas where turbine development looks possible. Substantial support for wind farm development is present in areas 3 and 6, both east of Route 12E, not directly on the waterfront.
“Those two areas would be closely looked at for a district,” Town Councilman Warren A. Johnson said.
Just over 71 percent of respondents in area 3 showed a general support for turbines, and just over 59 percent said development in their neighborhood would be acceptable. In area 6, almost 69 percent of respondents showed general support of turbines, and about 46 percent would find turbines in their neighborhood acceptable.
Deputy Town Supervisor G. Norman Schreib said because the survey shows the majority of people in area 6 do not want turbines in their neighborhood, the town probably will investigate how wind farm development there may be made more acceptable.
“We may do another survey, or do a meeting with the people that live in that area,” he said.
While results show that waterfront property owners near Chaumont Bay do not want industrial turbines in their area, the survey also shows that residents in other neighborhoods agree on that point.
In the waterfront area of Point Peninsula, for example, only 34 percent of respondents who live there said they would accept turbine development in the nieghborhood. Townwide, only 37 percent of respondents want turbine development in the Point Peninsula area. The results are similar for the waterfront areas of Carrying Place, Three Mile Point and Point Salubrious.
The survey also shows a townwide push for large setbacks from waterfront property and densely populated areas. About 56 percent of respondents want turbines set back more than 4,500 feet from the waterfront. The survey also shows that about 58 percent of respondents want turbines set back more than 4,500 feet from population centers such as the village of Chaumont and hamlet of Three Mile Bay.
The survey did not specifically ask about setbacks from buildings or property lines.
Mr. Johnson was not surprised to see a resistance to turbine development in waterfront areas. Property owners there want to enjoy the area’s natural beauty, he said.
“Put something like a 400-foot tower in your backyard and that takes away from the aesthetics of the property,” he said.
The survey also shows that only a small amount of sound from turbines will be acceptable to most people. About 81 percent of respondents said sound from turbines should be “unnoticed to tolerable” and not add more than 5 decibels to the normal background noise in a particular area.
Mr. Carr said setbacks in the zoning law should be determined by sound.
By Kelly Vadney
Watertown Daily Times
27 September 2007
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