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Scipio to consider wind test towers  

A committee of two Scipio town board members will consider windmill test tower rules and fees prior to moving forward on any applications for the installation of temporary test towers.

Mark Malys and Gary Goodnough volunteered to consult with the town’s code enforcement officer to recommend fees for any towers being considered for installation in Scipio.

Cell phone towers, which now require a $2,500 non-refundable deposit plus a $500 permit fee to be renewed every five years, will also be looked at. The board may change those fees, which haven’t been modified for the past 12 years.

It will then consider whether or not a similar fee might be charged for the windmill test towers and possibly permanent wind towers.

Malys suggested when the board begins planning that it also consider a situation in Herkimer County, where residents opposed to wind farms took the town to court for not having done a proper environmental study as well as towers blocking vistas that were aesthetically valuable to that town. He believed there might be some townspeople opposed on those grounds.

Code enforcement Michael O’Connor said he believed the 400-foot permanent towers would be too tall to be built in Scipio and still be in accord with state regulations for height in the Scipio zone. He said that at the town’s elevation, the maximum height a structure may have is about 198 feet, given the altitude of the terrain.

The town expects the committee to provide its recommendations before the next town board meeting on Feb. 13.

At its Dec. 26 public hearing, the board heard a request by Shell WindEnergy Group, based in Houston, to amend a zoning law to allow the placement of at least three temporary anemometer towers to measure wind velocity and direction. This would allow the company to determine the profitability of constructing wind turbines there.

The 100-foot “met” towers would be installed at sites with elevations of about 1,200 feet.

The ordinance regulating the installation of towers sets strict limits for their placement at a certain distance from roads as well as indicating that the towers have to be lighted in a certain way, according to O’Connor.

Setting fees will be a first step in a process that could take as long as three years. While no one has applied to have the “met” towers placed on their property yet, the fees are expected to be in place soon.

By Kathleen Barran / The Citizen


17 January 2008

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