HAMMOND – The Hammond Wind Committee is dealing with a number of issues as Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram’s December deadline nears.
“The deadline is approaching,” said Richard K. Champany, committee member, near the conclusion of Monday’s committee meeting, “and we’re not making much progress at these meetings. Are we going to have to schedule some Saturday work sessions?”
The issues are many – since March, the committee has covered everything from property values, Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements, health and safety, tourism, job creation, environmental impacts, noise standards and setback distances, to name a few – but have failed to make any recommendations to the town board on revising or improving the controversial wind law that was passed by a town board that has since welcomed two new members and a new supervisor.
Mr. Bertram, present at Monday’s meeting, said he “expects some progress out of the committee” by the end of December, but added, “That’s not a lock, stock and barrel deadline.”
Between now and then, three more meeting dates are scheduled for the wind committee: Nov. 29, Dec. 6, and Dec. 20.
Following a presentation by Mark Bastasch, an engineer from CH2M Hill, Oregon, hired by Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., which outlined a preliminary evaluation of existing ambient sound levels in Hammond, committee tri-chair Ronald R. Papke said he will be proposing his suggestions about noise limits to the committee via e-mail, to be discussed and decided upon at the Nov. 29 meeting.
Tri-chair Michele W. McQueer was troubled with Mr. Papke’s proposal, saying those would be his suggestions only, and not the consensus of the committee. Mr. Papke said it was a proposal only and that any committee member could produce their own suggestions.
The purpose of Mr. Bastasch’s evaluation, which he said consisted of collecting the average, median, and background sound level exceeded 90 percent of the time at three different locations over a three day period (Sept. 28 through Sept. 30), “was to provide a preliminary snapshot of existing sound levels within areas where future development of wind energy facilities is under consideration.”
He said locations included “the Martin farm to the north” of the wind overlay district, Nancy Hadlock’s property in the middle of the overlay district, and Sheila Beamish’s property to the south of the overlay district.”
However, his summary – which reported “resulting trends” as expected, including “noise levels generally greater during the day than at night, and generally increasing with increasing wind speed”, as well as a range of 30 to 60 decibels during the monitoring period – at a glance does not seem any more valuable to the committee than nearly identical conclusions arrived at by members of the committee and the Hammond public who did their own informal noise study.
When this comment was made to the wind committee, Mr. Papke, answering for the committee, said only that committee members “felt a lot more comfortable” with information it seemingly already had.
A discussion about wind shear – when wind levels are calm at ground level but significantly higher at hub height, or the location of the spinning wind turbine blades – followed, with the committee’s conclusion being that they were lacking data on wind shear, how often it occurs in a serene country atmosphere like Hammond’s, and how the phenomena should be addressed in the existing wind law.
A scheduled visit to Noble Wind’s Chateaugay wind farm for the past weekend never occurred, according to the committee, and no action was taken at Monday’s meeting.
Scheduled for the Nov. 29 committee meeting, to be held at 7 p.m. in the village community center, is a discussion on visual impact led by Mr. Papke.
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