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Board reviews law to allow public towers for wind power

Aurora residents had their say Monday on a proposal to regulate wind farms, but town officials said they will have a chance to say even more before a new law is enacted.

Town officials have been reviewing a draft law on wind towers since Albert “Bill” Miller late last year first said he wanted to erect a 153-foot tower on his Bailey Road property to generate energy for his personal use. Miller’s request became stalled at the Zoning Board of Appeals level after the board told Miller he had to apply for a use and area variance because it was not viewed as a permitted use in a zoning district.

The town code has no provision in place to address wind energy. The Town Board approved a six-month moratorium to study the issue.

If Miller’s proposal is approved, it would be the tallest structure in the town outside the Village of East Aurora.

It won some support Monday during an informal public hearing.

“Have you ever lived without electric power for more than a week?” one resident asked the board before turning to the public attending the hearing and asking the same question. “Power is a wonderful thing. I hope you will allow Mr. Miller to have power.”

The proposed law does not specify a maximum overall height.

The draft law calls for it to be considered a permitted use in all zoning classifications of Aurora. Any proposals for wind towers would be subject to a site plan review, Town Board approval and a permit issued by the Building Department.

Environmental attorney Arthur Giacalone questioned if that went far enough. He also told town officials they should do an environmental review under state requirements first before having already drafted a proposed wind energy conversion system law.

Resident John Hughes and others said they liked the idea of allowing property owners to erect wind towers, but Hughes, a retired engineer, cautioned the board to develop “a quality ordinance that would anticipate problems that may arise.”

“This is a new venture to the town. We can start out conservatively,” he said.

Supervisor Jolene Jeffe said the town is trying to balance expediency in handling the issue and at the same time do a thorough job in studying the matter before putting anything in place. Jeffe said the Town Board would review the comments from Monday’s hearing and likely make modifications to the code before conducting another public hearing.