It’s been almost a two-year-long process, so what’s another three months as long as it’s done right. That thinking prevailed at the Town of Dunkirk Board meeting Tuesday as the Board approved a three-month extension of its Wind Energy Conversion System moratorium.
The Board held a public hearing prior to the start of the regular meeting on the moratorium extension specifically. Only one person spoke about the extension. Lisa DiFrancisco asked if the Board agrees upon an agreement prior to the end of the moratorium, then could it come off it. Supervisor Richard Purol said it could, essentially.
“I’ve been through these processes with other zoning boards and sometimes there are concerns about legal issues and the amount of time, but our stance is we’d rather see it done right,” she said. “The Board has put a lot of work into this and it would be silly to cut that short.”
DiFrancisco is a small WECS installer for North Coast Energy Systems, but also happens to be a land owner in New York where she says one of the utility farms is proposing a large-scale wind turbine.
“We’ve worked with zoning ordinances in the past, both in Pennsylvania and in New York, and what we’d like to see is an ordinances that’s both protective of the community, protects the board and protects the customer and allows them to use responsible equipment,” she said. “We’re looking for an ordinance that makes sense in a lot of directions.”
The Town held a public hearing in July on the draft plan, which was met with some suggestion and criticism from the public.
“We’re close, just not close enough yet,” Purol said. “We’ve been working on this for well over a year and a half and we thought we were close. Apparently though we did ruffle a few feathers when we talked about it. We’re trying to take care of everything we can and we’re trying to get it so there are no variances involved and that we come up with one straight thing where it’s cut and dried either you can or can’t do it.”
Some of the criteria in the WECS law that the town has to rethink, according to Purol, include the original 120 feet granted for tower height.
“There were some objections to that. There were people who would have liked to have seen it taller, so we’re looking at that,” Purol said. “And also the setbacks, which were kind of restrictive for a two-acre piece of property. Jim Joy from the Town of Pomfret is going over theirs now, so we said we went this far and we’d go just a little bit further.”
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