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Litchfield council extends moratorium on wind projects

LITCHFIELD – These days, when it comes to wind turbines, there’s not much the entire Town Council and residents can agree on.

But at a Tuesday night meeting, all who spoke agreed that a moratorium on wind farms in the town of Litchfield needs to be extended – at least for a little bit longer.

After several residents spoke in favor of extending the moratorium during a public hearing, the Town Council unanimously approved a six-month extension that will expire March 25, 2011. The current moratorium was set to expire September 25, but needed to be extended because the council hasn’t decided what rules should govern wind farm projects in the town, officials said.

That became an issue last year when Albany-based NorthWind and Power LLC began talking about building a 20-megawatt farm on Dry Hill.

“Five months from now, if we’re not ready, we’ll probably extend it another six months,” Council member Kate Entwistle said.

A wind ordinance recently drafted by a group of residents would require wind companies to obtain easements from all residences within 6,500 feet of a turbine. Town Supervisor Wayne Casler has said he believes lessening that requirement to 2,500 feet would be more reasonable.

Litchfield resident Barb Massoud – one of about 60 people who attended the 7:30 p.m. meeting – said she has concerns about potential health effects of living near turbines. During the public hearing, she asked the board to consider attending an upcoming symposium on the adverse health effects of turbines hosted by the Society for Wind Vigilance.

“We’re on the cusp of a lot of research,” Massoud said.

The proposed wind turbine ordinance was discussed throughout the remainder of the meeting, but no decisions were made. Residents voiced a number of concerns.

Some wanted to know if there is enough wind on Dry Hill to make the project viable. Others asked how much noise the turbines will make.

Council member Jim Entwistle said he’s primarily concerned with residents’ safety.

“The more I learn about this, the less I like about it,” Jim Entwistle said.