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Legislation may bar Sea Girt-Manasquan wind turbine

State Sen. Sean T. Kean plans to introduce legislation requiring wind turbines to be sited away from residential homes, a move that could imperil the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs’ controversial turbine project in his district.

Residents of Sea Girt and Manasquan have loudly opposed the DMAVA’s plans to build a federally funded 325-foot turbine at its National Guard Training Center, a state-owned parcel of land that lies between the two boroughs.

Kean said the Office of Legislative Services in Trenton is researching laws in California, Illinois and Europe regarding turbine setback requirements.

He said existing rules dictate turbines be sited 1,000 to 3,200 feet from homes. His proposed minimum setback likely would preclude the DMAVA from siting a turbine at the training center, he said.

“I think government is mishandling it,” Kean said of the plans to build the 1.5-megawatt turbine. “We don’t want to ruin the lifestyle of some of these great communities.”

Kean said he’s heard from people living near the wind farm at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority plant in Atlantic City that the turbines there – similar in size to the one being planned for the training center – are noisy, produce flickering light effects and have affected property values.

All are issues that concern him, Kean said, and a turbine at the training center could have far-reaching effects.

“It’s a legitimate argument to say that we’re depending on those property values (in Sea Girt and Manasquan) to provide wealth to the state and county,” he said. “If we do something that’s going to diminish the property values, then the property tax revenue is going to go down, and that’s not in anybody’s interest.”

Kean said he’s not yet sure when he will introduce the new measures, but said he is “determined to come up with legislation that’s going to be put into law as soon as possible.”

He added he wasn’t opposed to wind energy and cited state plans to pump millions into offshore wind farms as a better alternative than turbines near homes.

“If it is the way of the future, if it is going to be something that’s really going to evolve into an alternative energy source, which everyone wants to see, we should be smart about developing it,” he said.

Chief Warrant Officer Patrick L. Daugherty, spokesman for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said he was unaware of Kean’s planned legislation, but said that if it passes, “the department is going to abide by whatever laws there are regarding turbines.”

An independent company has completed studies on how the DMAVA’s proposed turbine could affect wildlife and people, and is preparing a formal report that may be ready within the next few months, Daugherty said.