PLATTSBURGH – Only three residents commented during a public hearing on a proposed Town of Plattsburgh law on wind-energy facilities.
The law would prohibit large commercial wind parks, such as those in Altona and Ellenburg.
Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett noted the local law was drafted after a Town Wind Committee studied the issue for several years.
He said a few spots exist with enough sustained wind to make such a project feasible in the town, and those areas don’t have enough room.
“The local law indicates a large commercial wind farm would not be a good choice for the Town of Plattsburgh.”
It would allow units less than 100 feet in height that produce less than 100 kilowatts of power to residential, commercial or industrial uses on the same lot or an adjoining lot.
Bassett said technology for smaller wind turbines continues to evolve and improve, so the town developed regulations and guidelines for people who want to install such units.
Susan Angell of Facteau Ave. had several questions and comments. She said that while the law says Town Planning Board approval is required, the town should develop a specific evaluation tool so all projects are judged equally.
Town Planning Board Attorney C. J. Madonna said the local law requires an applicant to do a wind-resource assessment and an economic analysis to make sure the project is feasible. That will be part of what the Planning Board will use to make a determination.
Angell pointed out that the law states the wind-resource assessment can be waived for good cause, but there is no definition as to what constitutes a good cause.
She said anyone who considers putting up a wind turbine should talk with someone who has done so. Angell said she knows a family who installed a rooftop unit and then discovered they couldn’t stand the noise.
There’s also nothing in the law about required maintenance, she said. Angell suggested the town consider requiring a license with renewal periods to make sure units are inspected and maintained properly.
“These things can be dangerous,” she said.
Curt Snyder of Solar Way said he doesn’t think the town should limit turbine-blade length to 20 feet. A longer blade would spin slower to provide equal or increased electricity production and also reduce noise, he said.
Bassett said someone who wants longer blades can seek a variance through the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
Town Attorney James Coffey said the town can also amend the local law if it isn’t working as planned.
Tom Metz of Champlain Drive said vertical axis wind turbines are on the market that revolve around the tower. He urged the town to include regulations and guidelines on those units in the local law.
“If we don’t have some parameters and guidelines, we could have some big problems,” Metz said.
The Town Council is expected to vote on the local law at a future meeting.
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