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Wind farm supporters blast Lyme survey

‘Worth nothing’: Questions concerning distance of turbines from waterfront, village are criticized

LYME – In August, the Lyme Planning Board asked residents to fill out a survey to help them write a zoning law amendment for wind turbines. Now questions on that survey are being challenged as not valid.

Two questions on the survey ask residents how far from the waterfront, village of Chaumont and hamlets turbines should be placed. Their options were: 1,500 feet, 3,000 feet, 4,500 feet and “Turbines should not be near the waterfront” or “Turbines should not be near any area of population such as a hamlet and/or village.”

That final selection was tallied as farther than 4,500 feet, although it does not give a specific distance.

Planning Board chairwoman Anne M. Harris admitted that the question may have been confusing.

“I would have done it differently and reworded the question,” she said.

But the committee that put the surveys together did not have experts in surveys.

“We tried to get as many knowledgeable people as possible to look at it,” she said.

The Planning Board asked the Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College to look it over. Denise K. Young, the director of CCS at the time, said the center did not look at it or make any recommendations because it did not design the questions.

“It wasn’t involved in designing or analyzing the study,” she said. “We weren’t contracted to do anything with the study.”

Julie E. Gosier, a Three Mile Bay resident and member of Voters for Wind, said the vague question hurts the entire survey.

“That survey – the way it is worded – is worth nothing,” she said.

Planning Board and Town Council members have said at their workshops on the zoning law amendment that the survey is the basis for the setback stipulations and is what the public in Lyme wants. The boards have said they’re not willing to change the setbacks, which have been set at 4,500 feet from the waterfront and village and hamlets.

Mrs. Harris still believes that the interpretation of the results is correct. Planning Board member Albert H. Bowers has gone through all of the surveys and compared comments to the selection of the vague answer.

She said that frequently, the comments are things like “nowhere in town” or “not on the planet.” She said the surveys are available at the town office and will soon be put on the town’s Web site with names, addresses and other identifying markers blacked out.

“We want to make sure it’s as open and aboveboard as possible,” she said. “We want to put the questions to rest.”

By Nancy Madsen
Times Staff Writer

Watertown Daily Times

14 April 2008