Leaders in the town of Hamlin said they need extra time as they consider a wind turbine law, so they will soon vote on extending a moratorium on wind development.
Still unclear is how tall should wind turbines be, and how far should they be set back from people’s homes and property lines?
Hamlin is so divided over this issue that some longtime neighbors have stopped talking to each other.
Testing is underway on Jim Burch’s apple farm in search of steady wind. By signing land leases, Burch and others receive annual checks from the Iberdrola Wind Company, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
If turbines go up: “You’re talking maybe $10,000 a year. Maybe more, maybe less,” Burch said.
Not enough to retire on, but enough to carry on farming.
“It’s the same reason we go out and pick up juice apples in the fall up until the snow is on the ground. Even though they’re not the good apples, we’re not making much per bushel. It all helps the bottom line,” he added.
Down the road, opponents contend that it’s money that’s driving Hamlin’s green movement.
What’s more, the population is shifting.
Hamlin Preservation Group Co-chair Troy Nesbitt said, “Our town is shrinking, unfortunately. We are building houses, there are projects going on currently. If you put a bunch of wind towers in this town, who’s going to want to live here?”
While Nesbitt’s group represents about 30 people in Hamlin, the opposite side says Nesbitt’s group is actually the minority voice and that the recent election proves that.
“The anti-wind people got 400 votes, the pro-side got over 1,200,” said Art McFarlane, who favors having wind turbines.
Hamlin’s town supervisor, Denny Roach (R), will continue his quest to adopt a law permitting turbines with certain limits.
“Hamlin is rural, and our intent is to try to maintain our rural, agricultural environment, and our character,” Roach said.
Some questioned Roach’s character when, in July, he disbanded Hamlin’s wind tower committee which was investigating pros and cons of wind development.
Roach said he was worried legislation in Albany might soon pass that would give towns less of a say in deciding where energy projects should go.
With their mission cut short, most of the nine wind tower committee members took sides. Three supported wind development in northwest Hamlin, four objected.
Before wind companies can move ahead, local leaders must agree on a law outlining limits on tower height, and setbacks.
So, while neighbor relations remain testy, come spring, wind power may be in season along the lakeshore in Hamlin.
By Kathy Kriz
14 January 2008
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