The Town of Albion Wind Advisory Committee discussed a proposed 24-page local law outlining the rules and procedures for wind turbines at Thursday evening’s meeting.
Town officials have yet to decide, however, whether 400-foot turbines are in the best interest of the community. The draft will be presented to the Town Board with the committee’s final recommendations.
Written by attorney Daniel Spitzer, who has drafted wind-energy laws for numerous townships across the state, the law addresses the permit and rezoning process, application requirements, regulations for the towers and the surrounding area, required safety measures and issues of construction and decommissioning. Regulations for small wind-energy towers emitting less than 100 kW of electricity are included, as well.
The six-man committee decided at the beginning of the meeting to defer voting on the proposed law.
“I’m not ready to vote, I don’t think anyone else is, either,” said advisory member Duane Delamarter, also the town’s code enforcement officer.
Airtricity, a $1.6 billion wind-energy company out of Dublin, has proposed 55 to 80 towers between the towns of Gaines and Albion. Its North America division was sold to E.ON, an energy facility from Germany, in early October. In Albion, the turbines are proposed for the southwest side of the community west of Route 98 and south of the railroad tracks, Spitzer said.
Advisory committee members expressed concern about the visual impact along the Erie Canal corridor, as well as the rest of the community, due to the relatively flat landscape. The public’s concerns echoed many of the ongoing issues surrounding the turbines – including a 4,000-foot shadow flicker effect caused by the sun, as well as property values, taxes, noise and the need for tower repairs. Other issues include the efficiency of the turbines and environmental and aesthetic impact.
Spitzer said the turbines’ construction is often the most detrimental to residents. As a result, the proposed law limits hours of construction to the daytime. An architect who owns a historic home in Barre Center said she is concerned that the vibration from the construction trucks will “irreparably damage” her home’s unsupported masonry structure.
Gaines Advisory Committee member John Goslau, who moved to the area from New Jersey six months ago, said the turbines will keep people from migrating to the area.
“I feel that most of the energy would be going to New York City,” he said. “You have a beautiful community; don’t destroy it with these giants.”
Village of Albion resident David Heminway, also a Gaines Advisory member expressed the view that the turbines won’t necessarily reduce taxes. If the town doesn’t allow wind towers, Albion could become a tourist destination simply for not having them, when the rest of the state does, he said.
Spitzer said the town should have until mid-2008 to make a final decision, as the State Environmental Quality Review process is a lengthy one.
The Albion Wind Advisory Committee findings thus far are:
• Wind energy is an abundant, renewable and nonpolluting energy source.
• The electricity generated from wind turbines can be cost effective.
• For the safety of the residents and property owners, regulation of the siting and installation of the turbines is necessary.
• The towers could have significant potential aesthetic impacts due to their large size, lighting and shadow flicker effects.
• If construction is not regulated properly, the towers could cause drainage problems from erosion and lack of sediment. Construction could create traffic problems and damage roads.
• The towers could present a risk to bird and bat populations, as well as property values of neighboring property owners. They can also cause electromagnetic interference.
By Nicole Coleman
2 November 2007
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