Town board weighs the pros, cons and restrictions of wind-powered systems.
The Sullivan Town Board tonight will consider a six-month moratorium on residential windmills.
Wind power is not a contested issue in the town right now, but local lawmakers said they need time to regulate how and where the devices can be installed. With escalating energy prices and growing interest in alternative energy sources, town officials want regulations in place before the systems become commonplace, said Town Clerk Charlotte Ferstler.
“The issue is more with the placement of them,” she said. “In some places, they are more distracting than others.”
Town Attorney Donald Colella previously said the wind-power systems can be noisy and disruptive if they’re not maintained. The devices are expensive, costing up to $15,000, and the installation is an involved process.
Colella is researching zoning restrictions in Turin, Lewis County, that governs the installation and use of windmills. Under that town’s codes, windmills must be set back at least 50 feet from any road plus the height of the device itself. A 30-foot windmill, for example, would be required to be 80 feet from the road.
The code states that setbacks are not required between two properties if the landowners are sharing the device or its energy. Appropriate landscaping is required to screen windmills from neighboring properties.
In Sullivan, property along Oneida Lake and the higher elevations between Chittenango and Fenner are ideal for wind power.
Peter Cann, a Quarry Road resident who sells the devices and previously worked as executive director for the Madison County Industrial Development Agency, will ask the board not to extend the moratorium beyond six months. He said the town board could adopt existing codes written by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
“They don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “As a community, as citizens, we ought to be encouraged to put up windmills. With global warming, if we don’t start doing something, we’re going to go over the hump.”
Cann heats and cools his home with a unit powered by his water well. The water flow generates electricity that is converted into heat. The system has been in place for 30 years, and Cann said it was recently upgraded so that he doesn’t have to use an oil-burning furnace to supplement the heat source.
Cann is planning to install a windmill on his property within the next several months, the goal being to live in a home that doesn’t consume fossil fuels. He’s also suggested that the town consider building a small wind park at Chapman Park that would power the on-site facilities.
The public hearing on the proposed moratorium is scheduled for 7 p.m. The board might vote on it during the regular meeting that follows the hearing.
By Aaron Gifford
2 March 2008
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