NEWFANE – Any plans to build windmills in Newfane will have to wait until summer to be considered, following Wednesday’s unanimous vote on a moratorium by the Town Board.
While there are no wind-energy projects currently awaiting approval in the town, board members said the six-month holding period was enacted to allow the town and its Planning Board to create guidelines for expected windmill proposals.
“I like wind power, I like windmills, but we just need to do it right,” Supervisor Timothy R. Horanburg said. “We have no guidance in place right now. . . . We want to be ready for what we see coming.”
Only one Newfane resident, Phil Baehr of Lake Road, spoke during the brief public hearing held on the moratorium. Baehr said he was glad to see the board take action because he and other residents living on Lake Ontario were being “pressured” by firms to lease their land for windmill construction.
One firm has contacted him for use of his land, but Baehr said after the meeting that he was left with “too many unanswered questions” to consider signing on to a 99-year lease.
“Once they put that tower up, once they put that access road in, your land is gone,” Baehr said. “And you’re talking about some of the best fruit-growing land there is.”
One resident obtained permission to build a windmill for residential power generation in the fall, but the town approved the construction under an ordinance for silos and towers, Horanburg said. Councilman Robert A. Petit said he would like to see more information distributed by wind power companies before residents are asked to consider lease deals.
The Town of Somerset is currently considering a vote on a windmill contract with Empire State Wind Energy, owned by Rochester businessman B. Thomas Golisano. Horanburg said Newfane wouldn’t be unfriendly to similar windmill projects, but only after further review of other towns’ wind power ordinances.
By Kevin Purdy
24 January 2008
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