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Public debates wind energy

CHAUMONT – More than 100 people both for and against wind power development crammed into the fire hall Saturday for the first of two public hearings on the town of Lyme’s proposed zoning ordinance for wind turbines.

Several comments at the three-hour meeting were followed by applause and some by boos, but Town Supervisor Scott G. Aubertine said after the hearing that he was pleased by the turnout and the willingness of the crowd to listen to differing opinions.

“This turnout shows a lot of care and concerns of the people,” he said. “They have a lot of very valid questions and concerns, so after the meetings the board will digest all of it and make a decision.”

BP Alternative Energy is proposing the Cape Vincent Wind Farm in the towns of Cape Vincent and Lyme, with 90 to 140 wind turbines. The Town Council extended the moratorium on wind farm development in November until the end of January. The original six-month moratorium was developed in April and later extended through November.

Dawn M. Munk, Three Mile Bay, is a member of the group Voters for Wind and spoke on why she thinks the setbacks in the ordinance are too restrictive. The ordinance says that a turbine may not be placed within 4,500 feet from Lake Ontario, the Chaumont River, the village of Chaumont boundary line and the hamlet of Three Mile Bay boundary line.

… setback in any other wind farm in the state,” Mrs. Munk said. “It would be two times the noise regulations of any other in the state. I am disappointed in the way the town board and Planning Board have handled this. We have such an abundance of wind here, and it’s not something we have to drill or mine. We just have to harness it. We do not need another moratorium; we need action.”

Scott C. Discount and Seann A. Coffee recently bought a parcel of land in the town and are building a year-round residence. Mr. Discount said if he had known about the wind power proposal, he would not have moved to the area.

“We came up here for the absolute beauty of the area,” lie said. That goes away with wind farms. I think the setbacks should be increased and you should have a longer moratorium. I came here to invest in my future, and now I want to protect that investment.”

James A. Oxenford, Three Mile Bay, also is worried about how the placement of turbines would affect the town’s character.

“Why place a noisemaker in the quiet country?” he said. “Why put tall towers in a low area? I think we’re looking cheap and easy. We wouldn’t be getting much compensation for what we would get taken away from us.

Daniel J. Villa, Three Mile Bay, said he is in favor of wind farms but also thinks the regulations are fine as submitted.

“We have to look at this whole piece and see the impact this will have on our town,” he said. “I’m in favor of development in the town of Lyme, and I support the regulations as they are.”

William A. Brown, also a member of Voters for Wind, is opposed to such restrictive setbacks and showed a map of his property at the meeting. One parcel is 844 acres. Without the setback regulations, he said, he could have 21 wind towers on that property. With all the setbacks, he said, the Planning Board told him he could have two.

His second parcel is 298 acres an and would be able to accommodate seven towers without setbacks. With them, he said, none would be allowed.

James H. Madden, BP Alternative Energy’s project manager for the project, said his job is to work with the town to address questions and concerns.

“I’ve been talking to residents, and I’ve seen the survey, and I do not think this is what the residents want,” he said, referring to the wind power survey circulated by the town this past summer. The survey results show 52 percent of property owners in Lyme support wind turbine development, 27 percent were not in favor, and 20 percent needed more information. About 37 percent said they would support the development but didn’t want turbines in their neighborhoods.

“A wind farm would not be possible under this ordinance and I cannot imagine any wind developer would be able to support a development with this ordinance, Mr. Madden said.

The second and final public meeting on the proposed zoning ordinance will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Chaumont Fire Hall.


The Lyme Town Council recently drafted a zoning ordinance for the prposcd Cape Vincent Wind Farm Project that would place 90 to 140 turbines in Cape Vincent and the Town of Lyme. Highlights include:

• Any wind energy conversion system, or turbine, must be set back a minimum of 4,500 feet from the high watermark of Lake Ontario, the Chaumont River, the village of Chaumont boundary line, and the hamlet of Three Mile Bay boundary line.

• No turbine can be more than 500 feet tall.

• The minimum distance from any public road, the nearest edge of the Wind Overlay District (the area within the project where no turbines are permitted), or any residence or non-turbine structure that a turbine can be erected is 2.5 times the total height of the turbine. If a turbine is 500 feet tall that would mean it would be at least 1,250 feet away from any of the above.

• A turbine must be placed at least the tower height plus 10 percent from any non-turbine above-ground utilities within the project boundary.

• A turbine must beat least 500 feet from state-identified wetlands or state-identified bodies of water.

• The noise generated by a turbine cannot exceed background noise plus 5 decibels when measured at the nearest property line, school, hospital, church, or public building.

• All power cables and lines from the tower to any building or other structure must be underground.

Watertown Daily Times