The Town Council has a busy agenda tonight with a large crowd expected to turnout for one of the more controversial business items—proposed ordinance changes regarding wind turbines.
Over the weekend, neighborhood activists led by Mary P. Radeka distributed flyers to residents throughout town encouraging townspeople to voice their concerns regarding the future of wind turbines in Middletown and for a separate project moving through the approvals process—a proposed 294-foot turbine to be located on the Strauss sheep farm adjacent to St. George’s School overlooking Sachuest Point.
On tonight’s agenda is a public hearing for the first reading of a proposed amendment for “wind energy conversion facilities.” The Planning Board has proposed the amendments, they say, to ensure that the new ordinance adopted earlier this year in February matches and includes the language already in the town’s Comprehensive Plan for governing the construction of wind turbines in Middletown. The new language calls for restricting new wind turbine construction to areas where the turbines would not provide a dominant view from sites around town that are historic, natural or scenic. So far, members of the Wind Turbine Committee have vocalized their opposition to the proposed changes, arguing that there are few, if any, locations in Middletown that would not be subjected to the “historic, natural or scenic” conditions and that the language effectually could eliminate any future opportunities to construct wind turbines, including a municipal wind turbine to generate additional revenue for the town.
Opponents who took part in the flyer campaign over the weekend have cited concerns over quality of life issues, and visual aesthetics, arguing it “would dominate the landscape for miles around.” The flyer also voices concerns for migratory birds, noice and “flicker” from wind turbine blades, as well as a loss to neighborhood property values.
Since the Strauss application was proposed under existing zoning laws, prior to implementing the proposed amendments, that project would not be affected by the changes.
The Town Council meets tonight at 7 pm at Town Hall, 350 E. Main Road.