HAMMOND – With three town council members supporting recommendations made by the wind advisory committee, it’s likely that an Iberdrola Renewables-built wind farm is not in the cards for the town.
A recent letter to the town board from an Iberdrola representative indicated that adoption of the committee-proposed real property value guarantee agreement would effectively kill the proposed 75-turbine Stone Church Wind Farm.
Written by Richard K. Champney, a Pulaski real estate attorney and wind committee member, the proposal calls for assurances from a wind developer that if a property owner cannot get at least the appraised value of a home at sale because of the presence of wind turbines, the wind company is required to make up the difference. The proposal also requires the company to buy out property owners opposed to living near turbines.
“In talking with many people around town, it seems to set their minds at ease,” Councilman Douglas E. Delosh said of property value proposal. “If this industry does come, and it does affect property values, they have an out. This is tremendously important. People have a lot of money invested in their homes.”
Other recommendations include much stricter setbacks, a multi-faceted set of noise standards developed by acoustical engineer Dr. Paul D. Schomer, a decommissioning plan, and the development of a Variance and Project Oversight Board.
Proposed noise limits are 45 decibels (dB) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., comparable to the sound of a crowded room, 40 dB from 7 to 10 p.m.; and 35 dB from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“I pretty much agree with all of the committee’s recommendations,” Mr. Delosh said. “Especially with the decommissioning proposal. If something happens down the road and these things are left dormant and leaking who knows what, we have to take care of ourselves.”
The town’s proposed law governing wind development since it was first adopted in 2008 has been challenged in court, scrapped, and adopted again just before the board changed membership after the 2009 elections. The new board has twice placed a moratorium on wind development, and a finalized wind law remains in limbo. Town officials continue to review the town wind advisory committee’s recommended changes to the law.
The current moratorium expires in July.
“When it comes right down to it, it was a good law to start with,” said Town Councilman James E. Langtry, one of two town board members who passed the original wind law in 2008.
Mr. Langtry has recused himself from discussing wind-related issues at town board meetings. His sister, Susan Dunham, has a signed lease with Iberdrola Renewables.
He said the actions of the town’s three newest councilmen, Mr. Delosh, Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram and Dr. James R. Tague, have cost the town time, money and created a huge, avoidable headache.
“This group came in, renamed and rewrote the law from beginning to end. Not much was left. It’s a disservice to this community if they adopt the committee’s recommendations,” Mr. Langtry said.
With Mr. Langtry and fellow Councilman James Pitcher, a wind lease holder, recused from the discussion, it’s up to Mr. Bertram, Mr. Delosh and Dr. Tague to review the committee’s recommendations.
Mr. Pitcher could not be reached for comment.
Dr. Tague said he respects the work the wind committee did.
“The committee was a group of community members with different backgrounds,” he said. “They conducted an exhaustive study with the most current information and came up with majority decisions on some very tough subjects. I have similar conclusions.”
Mr. Langtry said the committee was hand-picked in the first place by wind opponents on the town board.
“I’ve had a problem with the wind committee selection since the beginning,” he said. “Ten people with nine against? Why so against? There was a lot of talk both ways during the interview process and then, what, they’re all against?”
The town board will hold a regularly scheduled meeting Monday at 7 p.m. in the town offices at 17 North Main St., with special meetings called for reviewing wind committee recommendations on both April 18 and April 25, same time and place.
Mr. Bertram said he does not support additional moratoriums.
“The public deserves a decision,” he said.
He also said he remains skeptical about the industry as a whole.
“I’m not convinced that the science behind wind turbines is right for this country, let alone this town. It should be fairly obvious, if you speak to me, to realize I’m not convinced they work,” he said. “When the wind doesn’t blow, energy production has to come from somewhere.”
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