The Hamlin Town Board will discuss proposed laws to regulate wind towers during a workshop meeting tonight at Town Hall.
The draft legislation, prepared by attorneys from Hodgson Russ, was outlined to the board during a Nov. 14 meeting.
“Our goal is to have laws in place regarding wind towers so we can retain local control if a project is proposed,” said Supervisor Denny Roach.
A wind power company is investigating whether Hamlin would be a good site for a wind farm, but hasn’t made any formal proposals. Informally, the company has said such a farm could include numerous tall wind turbines, each nearly 400 feet high.
Currently, Hamlin has no town laws to regulate where such towers could go. The town set up a Wind Tower Committee in January and asked members to investigate turbines and wind power, and to recommend possible regulations. In a controversial move, Roach cut the committee’s work short in July when he became concerned that the state could soon pass a law that would strip control over wind turbine placement from municipalities that didn’t have pre-existing regulations.
Some members of the committee felt their work was cut short because they wanted to regulate turbines more tightly than town leaders wanted.
The draft law regulates every aspect of wind tower placement, from how far they must be from existing structures to how wind companies must ensure towers will be properly removed if decommissioned to how high they may be and where they may be located.
Roach said the board wants laws that are reasonable and defensible.
“The proposal gives us the format we’re looking for in a law, and addresses most of the issues we’re concerned about,” he said. “Most importantly, having laws gives us the assurance that the town is going to be protected.”
He said some issues the board may want to tweak include possibly increasing the minimum required distance between any tower and residential buildings from the proposed 1,000 feet, and adding stronger language requiring studies of any possible impact from a project on the local bird and bat populations.
“I think there is a sensitivity in this area to the bird issue, and we have talked about making a more specific requirement about avian studies,” he said.
The meeting does not include public input. Roach said public input will come later, after the board comes to agreement on possible changes.
Meaghan M. McDermott
29 November 2007
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