As residents and the town board in Enfield anticipate a wind farm and board members in the Town of Ithaca work out potential legislation, Newfield’s Town Board passed a 180-day moratorium on windmills effective through the end of the year.
“It became clear we needed to educate ourselves about wind power,” said Richard Driscoll, a 30-year resident of Newfield and the newest town board member.
The Newfield board was unanimous in approving the moratorium at its July 10 meeting, he said.
In Enfield, which borders Newfield on the west, the town board held off on a vote July 9 on wind-farm developer John Rancich’s proposal in order to send it back to the town attorney to get a stronger agreement.
Enfield Town Supervisor Frank Podufalski said from what he’s seen and heard, a local wind law and a developer’s agreement are used during wind farm projects, so asking Guy Krogh, the town attorney, to strengthen the agreement would allow the town board to eventually approve it.
The attorney expressed concerns over several portions of the agreement, most notably that the town has yet to adopt a local wind law. Councilman Herb Masser said the town planning board is close to submitting a proposal for the local law. All that’s needed before passing it to the town are a few changes in the language, he said.
Rancich submitted the agreements in order to obtain the town’s word that it won’t block the Enfield project and so he may go ahead and sign a contract to purchase wind turbines. Steve Bauman, Rancich’s associate, said the purchase could be as much as $10 million, which makes it prudent to seek an agreement with the town.
In Newfield, Council member Rich Dolge said board members favor renewable energy, but want to proceed carefully.
Dolge said he doesn’t know of anyone in the Town of Newfield with even a personal windmill.
Driscoll said small personal windmills are less likely to cause concerns than wind farms. While investigating wind power, they didn’t want to “entertain a request” for a big project.
The Town of Ithaca delayed a vote to allow residential windmills July 7, and a public hearing on the law is scheduled for the Town Board’s meeting at 6:20 p.m. Aug. 11 in Town Hall, 215 N. Tioga St.
During a well-attended meeting on the law in June, the board heard concerns from town residents that allowing a 10-decibel increase above ambient sound level, as measured at a neighbor’s property line, was too high.
During committee meetings in this month, board members reduced that to 8 decibels, but then added language allowing wind energy facilities to create up to 60 decibels of noise, “whichever is greater.”
Another public hearing on the law is scheduled during the Ithaca Town Board’s Aug. 11 meeting at 6:20 p.m. in Town Hall, 215 N. Tioga St.
“We’re very interested in what the Town of Ithaca comes up with,” Dolge said. “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We’re looking to take from the best.”
The next step in Newfield, after investigation and public hearings, would be legislation, Driscoll said.
“The moratorium is not in place because we’re not interested in alternative energy development,” Dolge said. “We definitely want people to consider alternative energy sources.”
By Linda Stout
Journal Staffers Tim Ashmore and Krisy Gashler contributed to this article.
28 July 2008
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