The town and planning boards of Lyme deserve accolades for their efforts in developing zoning laws with regard to wind turbines. They have actually put the horse before the cart with every action they have taken on this issue.
From the beginning, they declared a moratorium on any decisions to allow turbines in the town while the topic was investigated. They convened a citizens’ group to research the pros and cons of wind farms, brought in experts to educate the public, sent out a comprehensive survey on wind turbines to every taxpayer in the town, held numerous public hearings and drafted a zoning law based on the compiled data, not based on industry standards which the wind developers have fed to other town boards in the waterfront communities – clearly avoiding any conflice of interest issues.
I attended the latest of two public hearings which were held recently at the Chaumont Fire Department to determine public opinion on the draft Local Law for Wind Energy Facilities. The meeting was conducted in a professional and respectful manner. It was a long meeting and difficult to sit through while letter after letter was read by the town attorney and while approximately 100 people stood up and spoke their mind. But, I was so impressed with the way the meeting was handled and the fact that everyone was allowed to have a voice, including seasonal residents.
The draft local law is so thorough it makes me wish that other communities facing similar issues would use it as a template for their own zoning regulations. Representatives from British Petroleum (BP) are bemoaning that the law is too restrictive, but unlike the towns of Cape Vincent and Clayton the draft law is based on what the majority of the residents of Lyme are requesting and not on what a turbine company is telling them to include.
The town of Lyme draft zoning law embraces compromise; it allows for the placement of turbines within the town, including Three Mile Bay, while protecting those who will not be signing a lease with BP.
BP states that they may n build in the area if the ind energy facilities law in Lyme is adopted. This may not be a bad thing. Everyone knows that wind turbines are the new sexy alternative energy solution right now. But technologies are changing and the wind is not going anywhere. If one wind developer leaves, another will fill its place – possibly with a smaller, more energy efficient product.
In the meantime, the members of the town and planning boards of Lyme are looking out for all of their residents, their neighbors in the adjacent towns and the environment. Surrounding communities could take a lesson from them.
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