HAMLIN – Voices shouted and tears flowed Thursday night as the Town Board adopted a new law regulating wind farm development.
Councilman Paul Rath recused himself from the vote and debate because he has signed a lease agreement with a wind energy company.
Of the 75 people who attended the meeting, dozens opposed the new regulations, arguing they do not do enough to protect town residents.
The rules require that there be 1,200 feet between a wind turbine and the closest dwelling and 600 feet between it and the property line. But many residents wanted at least a 1,700-foot buffer from dwellings.
“Our concerns aren’t being heard,” said resident Tony Callari, who lives in an area where turbines might be built. Callari called the new law “developer-friendly.”
Supervisor Dennis Roach told the crowd he had researched wind turbines and believed the law was “balanced, reasonable and defensible.”
All four board members who voted in favor of the resolution said the 1,200-foot setback was appropriate.
Some residents shouted at board members during their pre-vote discussion. One man called for Roach’s resignation before storming out mid-meeting, and several people laughed when board members attempted to defend the details of the resolution. One woman sobbed after the vote, saying the board had just “destroyed the town.”
The new guidelines allow turbines only in low-density residential areas and require developers to obtain variances, special-use permits and environmental studies to ensure any towers would not disrupt ecosystems, migratory bird paths or other town residents. The rules also include noise restrictions.
The wind-turbine debate began in Hamlin in late 2006, when wind farm developer Competitive Power Ventures Inc. erected two devices in the northwest part of town.
Leaders of the 9,000-resident town soon realized they had no rules to govern where such a farm could go. In March 2007, the board enacted a moratorium on wind farms in order to draft new laws.
Hamlin is the first town in Monroe County to catch the eye of wind power developers.
Stephanie Veale and Victoria A. Freile
25 April 2008