The Town of Lewiston was caught unaware by the boom in cell phone towers during the 1990s.
“Our town ordinance was poor,” Frank Silvernail said. “It wasn’t worth the paper it was written on and we were starting to be steamrolled by the communications companies.”
Now, the town committee which was formed to deal with that issue is tackling another one: The interest in wind towers as a form of energy, both for small-scale residential towers and larger, commercial wind farms such as Steel Winds in Lackawanna.
“Some towns have said they don’t want wind towers and others say ‘come on in,’ ” Silvernail said. “We’re trying to be somewhere in the middle, protect residents’ interest and at the same time get some money out of these people.”
Silvernail is a member of the town Tower/Wind Energy Committee – which is currently in the preliminary stages of writing two town ordinances, one to deal with smaller towers and one for the larger ones.
Hopes are that the ordinances will be adopted by November, Committee Chairperson Emily Latko said. That’s when the town board’s moratorium on wind towers – which was passed to ensure none are put up without a town ordinance in place – is set to expire.
“We’re in the preliminary process of composing a wind energy law,” Latko said. “We’re just trying to incorporate things that would be good for our town.”
There are a series of issues that must be dealt with when it comes to wind towers, Silvernail said. Those include how much land they use, size and aesthetic impact on the surrounding area, noise concerns, the ability of larger turbines to fling ice up to a quarter-mile during wind storms in the winter and the possible impact on birds.
“We want to encourage local residents to put up some kind of a wind facility,” Silvernail said. “But on the other hand I’m sure that, as my neighbor, you don’t want that to fall on your house.”
Town Supervisor Fred Newlin said the town has to strike a balance on the issue of wind towers.
“The town’s interest here is preserving the character of the town,” he said. “We just don’t want to have wind towers anywhere and everywhere. We want to make sure there is minimal impact on neighbors and find the best place for them.”
By Dan Miner
2 March 2008
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