MORRISTOWN – Nine months ago, the Morristown wind committee presented the town board with its proposed wind energy facilities law.
At that time – May 11, 2010, after about three years of talking, research, and tweaking – the 10-member committee had produced a 40-page document.
However, the draft lacked two of the most important and controversial components – noise standards and setback distances. The committee, according to Chairman Peter A. Paquette, felt unqualified to make specific recommendations.
Enter LaBella Associates, P.C., a Rochester-based engineering and architecture firm hired by the town to assist with the law’s development.
Nearly six months later, in mid-November, LaBella had returned the draft law with about seven pages of suggestions for improvement, mostly language corrections to keep the document consistent, and none of which established noise standards or setbacks.
“Before suggestions for the completion of this section can be offered,” wrote Mark W. Tayrien, AICP, the director of LaBella’s planning division, “further discussion with the committee or with the town board will be necessary to understand the town’s intent.”
Busy for the past few months with investigating health insurance benefits, the wind law did not see agenda time again until Tuesday, when the town board announced that LaBella is being contacted to potentially meet with the board and possibly, the wind committee. That gathering is tentatively scheduled before the next board meeting on March 1 at 4 p.m., with regular business slated to begin as usual at 7 p.m.
“We won’t get through it in one night,” said Town Councilman W. Howard Warren, also a member of the wind committee, at Tuesday’s meeting.
Town Supervisor Frank L. Putman, who also served on the wind committee, said Wednesday that ultimately, “the town board will have to step up to the plate.”
“Someone (on the board) is going to have to address noise and setbacks. The question being posed (by LaBella) is where does the board stand, what will be right for Morristown,” Mr. Putman said.
Morristown is seemingly treading water.
“We’re not moving in any direction,” the supervisor said. “Every time I think we’re rolling up our sleeves and digging in, it doesn’t seem to be happening.”
The upcoming meeting, be it March 1 or some other date, according to Mr. Putman, and with or without the wind committee, will be for moving forward.
“What I see (happening) is,” he said, “with someone there from the consulting group, we’ll have more direction. They’ll have questions and we’ll be able to respond. They’re here to advise, not to formulate.”
The wind committee chairman said his group would be ready if called upon.
“Our initial hope was that they (LaBella) would make some suggestions, would give us some direction,” Mr. Paquette said Wednesday. “If the board calls upon us, obviously we’ll discuss these issues as far as we’re qualified. The same as before, but hopefully, with all of us back together, along with the consultant, we can figure something out.”
Waiting in the wings on the outcome is Iberdrola Renewables Inc., an international wind development company proposing the Stone Church Wind Farm, a 150-megawatt project in the towns of Morristown, Hammond, and Oswegatchie.