The Enfield Town Board’s adoption of a town law regulating wind turbines drew praise today from an advocate of regulation but a pledge to hope the measure is undone from the developer who has proposed a wind farm on a hilltop in the town.
The town board adopted the measure requiring certain setbacks from adjoining property and other features on Thursday evening. John Rancinch, who has proposed an array of wind farms on a hilltop on Black Oak Road, said the law will block his proposal and probably any other. Rancinch said Friday he plans to wait and see and hope the incoming Town Board, which will have newly elected members taking office in January, will repeal the ordinance and revise it.
Rancinch contends the final version of the ordinance, though in the works in the town since early in the year, was rushed through at the last minute and was improperly adopted. “I believe this law will not hold up.” At a hearing on the law Dec. 17, the majority of town residents who spoke were against the law he said.
Bruce Varner, a town resident who has supported town regulation of the wind mill plan, dismissed the rushed-through contention, noting that the town planning board has been working on the law for perhaps 10 months or more. He said the law will not make building wind farms impossible in the town and that there are viable sites elsewhere in Enfield for Rancich’s plan, but that the measure provides needed regulation to ensure they are sited to keep them safe should they fail. He said debris from a failed turbine can scatter widely from a turbine.
“I think it’s a good law,” Varner said in an interview. People living near wind turbines “want to be safe from debris scatter in case of an accident.”
The law requires setbacks of 1,250 feet from property lines, communication and electrical lines, transmission facilities such as substations, inhabited or inhabitable structures, public roads, Robert Treman State Park, neighboring municipalities and county lines, and property lines of a school, church or nursing facility.
Town Supervisor Jean Owens, whose term ends when a newly elected Supervisor Frank Podufalski and four new town board members take office Jan. 1, said she would recommend the new board revisit the law because she believes it was not adopted correctly under town procedural law and may not withstand a court challenge. Specifically, changes approved Thursday are substantial enough that they should have been presented to the public in a hearing first, Owens said.
Rancich has proposed to build 10-15 turbines on a site of mostly leased land at the southern end of Black Oak Road. Payments would be made to the town. Some environmental groups both in Enfield and beyond have praised the plan as a way to generate electricity without using fossil fuels, while others in the town have raised concerns about safety, noise and aesthetics on the landscape.
28 December 2007
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