While not a true public hearing, the Aurora Town Board gathered more information about its wind energy law from several people, including a representative of the resident whose request to build a wind tower launched the town on its path toward creating a wind ordinance.
The Aug. 9 meeting was supposed to include a formal public hearing, but Supervisor Jolene Jeffe said the legal notice to notify residents of the meeting was never published. The board will go back to review the code one more time before it sets another hearing in the future.
This process began last year in October when Albert “Bill” Miller applied to install a wind turbine on his Bailey Road property. The town put that application on hold, and in February the town enacted a six-month moratorium on the construction of all turbines.
An attorney for Miller asked the Town Board to examine and approve Miller’s application soon. The attorney said federal and state incentives on renewable energy were set to end at the end of the year and might not be available in the future. He also added the town should base its decision on how the law was written before the moratorium, not on any newly written restrictions.
The turbine would be about 150 feet tall, including the blades, and a height variance was required before the moratorium was enacted. The proposed project would be used only for Miller’s property and would cover up to 80 percent of his power use.
The lack of a current law addressing wind energy systems means that turbines of any type are not allowed in the town, Jeffe said. If the zoning law does not specifically mention an allowable change, such as the construction of a wind turbine, it is not allowed, she said.
“If it’s not there [in the code], it’s not a permitted use,” Jeffe said.
At the end of meeting, Jeffe said Miller could ask to be added to the Zoning Board of Appeals’ agenda for a ruling. The wind energy system moratorium will end on Aug. 16. She said the board was working to get the law done in a timely matter while making sure every angle was covered.
In other business at the meeting, Highway Superintendent David Gunner requested permission to purchase a new ladder to change the lights and reach other high points in the Gleed Avenue building. The A-frame telescoping ladder from Grainger would cost $786.60. Gunner said the town has to occasionally rent a lift to fix lights. Councilman Jim Collins questioned the need for the purchase, asking if the town could instead borrow such equipment. Gunner said that if the town plans on staying at Gleed, a ladder would be needed. Collins and other board members approved the purchase.
Also approved by the board was the purchase of a new refrigerator for the Aurora Senior Center. Jeffe said the current one is 10 years old, and to replace the compressor would cost around $1,000. The new appliance will cost $4,222, including delivery.
The board will hold a public hearing on Aug. 24 to discuss retirement incentives being offered through the state. There are several perks for qualifying people, but the town would have to show a significant savings for anyone who retires, either by not filling the position or by hiring someone else at a lower wage.
Before the regular meeting came to a close, Councilman Jeffery Harris asked to meet behind closed doors to discuss a personnel matter that dealt with the abstract of claims that he made a motion to approve only seconds earlier.
“I’d like to have an executive session to discuss several things in the abstract that deal with personnel. I won’t mention any names,” Harris said.
When Jeffe asked the purpose of the motion, Harris said he wanted to “discuss a couple things in the abstract that deal with a department head, that I don’t think should be discussed in public.”
“No, it needs to be a specific personnel-related issue,” Jeffe said. Harris withdrew his motion.
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