A group of wind tower opponents walked out of a Hamlin Town Board meeting Thursday night as the town became the first in Monroe County to adopt zoning laws that regulate development of wind power projects.
With one board member recusing himself, the rest voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance.
Town residents became sharply divided during the past year-and-a half over whether the western Monroe County town should allow commercial wind power farms to be built. A study committee appointed by Supervisor Dennis Roach split over the issue as well and ended up issuing three reports from three different factions.
In voting to approve the measure, Roach said he’s been accused of supporting wind power developers and of caving in to opponents. He said the board doesn’t profit from wind developers and reached its own conclusions. Roach said that process involved reading numerous reports, attending seminars with experts pro-and-con and also town board members doing their own original research into wind power’s benefits and problems.
Board members said they’ve visited a commercial wind farm and spoken with officials of those towns about them.
The law passed Thursday night limits the height of wind turbines to 400 feet. It says they have to be at least 12-hundred feet from a residence and 600 feet from a property line.
Some residents wanted a lesser setback requirement, but opponents wanted 17-hundred feet. Some of them held up signs with that number during the meeting.
Troy Nesbit heads the Hamlin Preservation Group which wanted the tougher restrictions. He said the group will consider legal action against the town or “whatever it takes” to overturn the zoning changes.
There is no wind farm development announced for Hamlin yet, but the wind energy firm Iberdrola is interested, and some residents have optioned their land for possible windmill sites.
Supervisor Roach says the new standards will require strict noise and environmental controls on any wind towers and will limit their impact on residences. And Board Member Michael Marchetti said he believes the restrictions will protect the rural nature of Hamlin. Board members also say taxes have gone down in two towns they visited that have large-scale wind farms.
That statement produced a skeptical reaction from a group of wind tower opponents among the hundred or more residents at Thursday night’s meeting.
24 April 2008
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