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Wind laws swirling in Hanover

HANOVER – Town officials finalized a proposed local law for wind energy conversion systems, cultivating the area for a future wind farm.

At the Hanover Town Board meeting Wednesday, officials took another step toward actualizing a joint wind energy project with the town of Villenova by setting a public hearing to adopt an updated local law to regulate wind energy conversion systems within the town.

“This is a law that revises an existing law that we have on the books,” Supervisor Katherine Tampio explained.

The original local law was enacted in 2006, with the 2008 amendment proposed in preparation for a joint wind energy project through Noble Power.

The project will involve the southern end of Hanover and the northern end of Villenova.

In March, Lael Eason of Noble Power said 67 turbines are expected to be erected, producing 100.5 mega-watts.

This would be enough electricity to power 40,000 to 50,000 homes each year, he explained.

Of the potential 67 turbines, 11 will be situated on private property within the town of Hanover, in addition to collection lines and a collection station.

The local law will regulate development of wind energy conversion systems, including installation and removal of wind towers – both commercial and non-commercial. It will also designate acceptable locations, indicate minimum setbacks, height and lighting requirements, maintenance, and penalties for any subsequent violations.

“(The original local law) needed some revision, some tightening up to protect town residents as well as the town,” Tampio said after the meeting.

The main change to existing legislation was to include PILOT agreements, Tampio added, since commercial wind towers are tax exempt.

Revisions were made with assistance from Daniel Spitzer of Hodgson Russ LLP, the legal advisor for both Hanover and Villenova regarding the project.

A public hearing was set for Monday, June 23 at 7:35 p.m. in the town hall. Copies of the proposed local law will be available at the public hearing, and are currently available at the town hall.

The proposed local law will be sent to the county planning board for suggestions and, barring any major changes, can be adopted once returned.

In other business, a number of Sunset Bay residents remain dissatisfied with their property tax assessments and the lack of justifiable answers for recent hikes in the assessed valuation of their homes.

Many are upset parts of Sunset Bay were targeted for re-assessment while no other areas in the town were. Residents felt they have received no concrete answer for why this was, or evidence justifying the need to re-assess only Sunset bay.

“I don’t have a clear answer as to why things happened the way they happened,” Donna Zimpfer said. “I feel like it’s all smoke and mirrors … I don’t feel like anyone in this room has any more understanding than they did when they first raised this issue.”

Tampio told residents the town board has no involvement with or control over town assessments. She said the town board has plans to meet with assessors from communities with similar problems to address current concerns expressed by bay residents.

“We’re all committed to improving this (situation),” Tampio said. “… We are committed to talking about this further.”

In further unrelated business, a public hearing was set for a new local law on special use permits in the B-1 Business District for automobile sales and service businesses, and vehicle repair and service shops for Monday, June 23 following the public hearing on the WECS law.

By Joel Cuthbert

Observer Today

29 May 2008