HAMMOND – The Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to enact a 240-day moratorium on the construction of wind energy facilities within the town.
Crayton L. Buck, chairman of the town’s wind power committee, said the eight-month moratorium gives the committee time to carefully craft regulations for wind farms. About a dozen people attended the meeting, with several just seeking answers about setbacks and size of the turbines.
Town resident Allan P. Newell, a wind power committee member, said he wants the process to be “inclusive and transparent” when an energy company comes to town proposing a wind farm.
“The town is taking the proper steps on this,” Councilman Russell Stewart said.
The measure calls for no permits to be issued for construction of wind turbines, and “no person shall be permitted to site, place, build, construct, modify or prepare any site for the placement or use of wind towers or turbines.”
PPM Atlantic Renewable, a subsidiary of PPM Energy, Portland, Ore., recently began talking with landowners about acquiring property as sites for wind turbines.
The company, a partner in Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County, has considered placing a wind farm in the town. PPM has a test tower to measure wind speeds on property near the St. Lawrence River on County Route 6. The project would be a first in St. Lawrence County.
The wind power committee was formed to examine the effect that wind turbines would have on the community. The committee, composed of community residents and alternative-energy experts, is using a model wind farm ordinance created by the St. Lawrence County Planning Board and Environmental Management Council as a guide.
The model will help it create regulations for wind farms, including setbacks, heights and locations for turbines. The committee has spent the past several months collecting information and talking with wind turbine experts. A draft ordinance should be finished about May.
“We know people will benefit from it,” Mr. Newell said, adding that the summer-only residents should have a voice in the process before decisions are made.
Some advantages to having wind turbines include rents from tower sites for property owners who host them, property taxes that the school district, town and county would receive on the development and the addition of renewable power to feed the grid.
Proponents of wind farms say the turbines are more environmentally friendly energy sources than fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Opponents say that windmills towering 400 feet above farm fields are an eyesore and a danger to birds and other wildlife, and that the power generated is not reliable enough to retire carbon-fueled power plants.
By David Winters
Times Staff Writer
12 February 2008
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