The Lyme Town Council approved a strict zoning law for wind development that one developer said will make industrial turbine development virtually impossible.
The approval was on a 3-2 vote at a special meeting Tuesday night.
Before the vote, the council received a report from the assessors that invalidated a protest petition from wind development supporters that would have required four votes for passage of the law.
The law creates setbacks from wind turbines of 4,500 feet from Lake Ontario, the Chaumont River, the village of Chaumont and the hamlet of Three Mile Bay. The law also requires the wind farm developer to pay for several studies, including environmental, property value and well water quality testing.
“Tonight was the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people, specifically on the Planning Board, citizens’ group and town board,” Councilman Warren A. Johnson said after the meeting. Mr. Johnson and Councilmen G. Norman Schreib and James R. Madill voted for the law.
BP Alternative Energy Project Manager James H. Madden has said that the law would make BP’s proposed project section in Lyme impossible. BP’s Cape Vincent Wind Farm had plans for 30 to 60 turbines in Lyme and up to 80 in the town of Cape Vincent.
Supervisor Scott G. Aubertine and Councilman Michael P. Countryman voted against the amendment.
“It’s actually a bit of relief for me,” Mr. Aubertine said after the meeting. “I’ve taken the brunt from a lot of people who said I wasn’t representing the majority of the town, but I felt I was standing up for what was right. I felt that the law was restrictive to those landowners who wanted turbines.”
Mr. Countryman said he had not been sure the council would vote on the law Tuesday night. “I’d like more time,” he said after the meeting.
Supporters of wind power in Lyme were disappointed with having their protest petition knocked down. If the petition, which was submitted April 17, had been deemed valid and the council members had voted 3-2, the law would not have passed.
The petition is based on Town Law Article 16, Section 265, which deals with changing zoning laws. The section has several requirements for accepting such a petition, but it primarily states that if a petition contains the signatures of the owners of 20 percent of the land affected by the proposed change, the change must be passed by a supermajority of the council, or four votes.
Julia E. Gosier, a member of Voters for Wind, said, “I don’t think there’s any way that you can express the anger some of us feel right now.”
The assessors’ report said that the necessary 20 percent of the town’s acreage would be 7,184. The petition had signatures representing 5,300 valid acres, after signatures for about 4,300 acres were ruled invalid. For almost 4,200 of those, the reason was that not all of the owners of record on the tax roll signed the petition. For example, if a husband signed the petition, but not his wife, when they are both listed on the tax roll, the husband’s signature would be invalid.
In addition, the assessors said each page was not notarized.
The wind supporters will re-examine the petition and reasons for invalidating acreage.
“Just because they say so, doesn’t mean it’s true,” said Charles A. Munk, a member of Voters for Wind.
By Nancy Madsen
Times Staff Writer
7 May 2008
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