As you now know from my last report, it appears likely that a final decision on Hamlin’s much debated wind turbine regulation law will come later this month. For nearly two years this clash of neighbors, farmers, and town leaders, has swirled about this Lake Ontario community.
We’ve covered this issue extensively at 13WHAM News, and the arguments on both sides have blown onto our airwaves frequently. From my many conversations with folks, the two sides of this debate can be best defined as follows.
Those in favor of this proposed law…
-Want a local voice clearly defined when the seemingly inevitable occurs; a wind farm developer decides to build.
-Hope this local law will trump any future legislation from the state level on this issue. (The state’s restrictions could be much more lenient when it comes to wind turbine placement.)
-Want to leave the possibility of a wind farm open for consideration; it could lead to revenue for farmers who lease their land for these turbines, and it could lower property taxes by increasing the tax base.
-May favor restrictions, but don’t want to prohibit economic growth and the possibility that Hamlin plays a key role in generating an alternative source of energy.
Those who worry about this proposed law…
-Want to see restrictions that push wind turbines further away from residential homes. (The currently proposed law says 1,200 feet from a home; opponents would like it to be 1,700 feet from neighboring property lines.)
-Aren’t opposed to alternative energy, but don’t think Hamlin is the ideal community given a relatively dense population as compared to other wind farm communities. (see: Cohocton, Steuben County)
-Worry that town leaders aren’t listening to their concerns, despite public meetings they don’t feel their suggestions are being added to these regulations.
-Worry about safety, especially when other communities with wind farms are telling them that frozen ice chunks can be hurled 400 feet or more.
-Do have concerns about wildlife and the effect a wind farm would have on local bird populations.
One thing to keep in mind, no matter what legislation the Hamlin Town Board agrees on, is the possibility of a lawsuit.
While it’s not addressed much in public, I’ve been told by some that an overly restrictive wind turbine law could open up the board to a lawsuit from farmers and landowners who feel their right to do what they want with their own land is being prohibited.
At the same time, a large number of concerned neighbors could consider legal action if they feel this local law doesn’t take into account their concerns about property values and quality of life.
6 April 2008
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