Ridgeway will soon become the third town in the county to adopt wind regulations behind Murray and Shelby.
The Orleans County Planning Board reviewed the regulations at their Thursday meeting, recommending the Town of Ridgeway approve them upon a series of changes.
They are virtually identical to the regulations adopted under Town of Shelby Law at the end of December, said Senior Planner James Bensley. The Town of Murray submitted their regulations for the county planning board to review in April 2007.
“We’re just setting this up to create an orderly process,” said Chairman Brian Napoli.
The meteorological towers in the area are currently in their second year of collecting data to determine if wind towers are prudent, Bensley said. The town has been in a moratorium since that time, which has allowed them to research the issue and develop a wind facilities law.
Ridgeway held a public hearing on the proposed law two weeks ago. At the core, it stipulates that no wind turbine construction, reconstruction, modifications or operations take place until approval of an application for rezoning and a special use permit is granted by the board directly. Agricultural wind towers less than 120 feet need not apply for a permit.
Wind energy overlay district approval and a construction timeline will be left to the Ridgeway Town Board, Napoli said. Towers may be placed in agricultural/residential and industrial districts. A number of extra fees will be a part of a separate schedule.
“(The wind company) would have to pay for the engineering. It’s an annual fee,” he said.
The law includes required setbacks – 1,000 feet from the nearest off-site residence, safety measures and decommissioning regulations. Maximum tower height is to be 420 feet.
It also includes standards for wind measurement towers and small wind towers. Wind companies are required to present studies on shadow flicker, visual impact, noise, property values, electromagnetic interference and potential ice-throwing from the blades, among others.
Section four states that the town board finds “wind energy is an abundant, renewable and nonpolluting energy resource,” but if not properly regulated, they can create drainage problems through erosion and lack of sediment control. If not properly sited, they may pose a risk to neighbors, as well as bird and bat populations.
The section also recognizes that wind energy facilities will have “significant potential aesthetic impacts” due to their size, lighting and shadow flicker effects – and that they can create significant noise and electromagnetic interference affecting certain communication systems.
The law additionally states that construction of the turbines can “create traffic problems and damage roads.”
In other news, the county planning board gave veterinarian Mary Neilans site plan and special use permit approval for an office at her mother’s Oak Orchard Road home in Gaines.
Located in a small building once used as a milkhouse behind the primary residence, the room will be used to examine animals on an appointment only basis, Neilans said. Minor surgeries may be performed and animals will not be staying overnight. There will be no advertising signage.
“It’s an office only,” she said. “There will be no hospitalization long term.”
Napoli and Tibbs Ahlberg were re-elected chairman and vice-chairman for the 2008 year. The planning board meets on an as-needed or monthly basis.
By Nicole Coleman
2 March 2008
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