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Louisville town council passes wind law

LOUISVILLE – Wind energy can now be a reality in the town of Louisville.

The town council unanimously voted to adopt a local wind law following a public hearing Wednesday night. The law enacts a series of rules and regulations for any wind energy facility to be built within the town. No rules involving wind energy had been in the Louisville codebook up until this point, according to Town Supervisor Larry R. Legault. The town planning board had been working on the law for nearly two and a half years, Mr. Legault said. The board received guidance from other towns.

“We knew that there was a potential that people might be interested in erecting windmills, whether it was for personal use or maybe for commercial use,” Mr. Legault said. “So we wanted to have something put in place because there was nothing in our codebook that addressed anything as far as erecting windmills.”

No commercial wind farm companies have approached the town yet, Mr. Legault said. Councilman Dan O’Keefe said he understood conditions in Louisville are not optimal for a commercial wind farm.

“We’re not in the right area to support that large of a commercial scale wind farm,” Mr. O’Keefe said. “We don’t want to see that happen here.”

Still, some in attendance warned the board of the dangers of commercial wind farms.

Louisville resident Dalton Foster had reviewed the law before the public hearing. He cautioned the board against the long-term consequences of wind energy facilities.

“What I would hate to see, and I probably won’t be here to see it, is that in 25 years or so if this doesn’t work out, we’ve got a bunch of these grotesque big things sticking up all over the north country,” Mr. Foster said. “And we get stuck with all of these monstrosities.”

The threat windmills pose to birds and bats is real in Louisville, Mr. Foster said.

“They’re important to agriculture because they eat tremendous amounts of insects,” Mr. Foster said. “Certainly this is an agricultural area.”

Louisville could be in trouble if a major commercial wind company, like Iberdrola Renewables Inc., comes to town, Mr. Foster said.

“The problem I see with dealing with them is they are a very large company, very professional,” he said. “They basically figure that they can come in to rural communities … and they could sell them anything.”

He wanted to see additional checks and balances put in place to prevent a major commercial company from taking advantage of the town.

Mary Anne Durant worried about the turmoil wind farm proposals have caused in other towns.

“I’d hate to see that happen here,” she said.

Mr. Legault said the town would solicit plenty of public input before any wind farms would be approved.

“I think if something like that does come along there will be a lot of public hearings. The public will definitely be involved in that,” Mr. Legault said. “I think we would be cautious of a big company coming in.”

The law includes several placement restrictions. No wind energy facilities can be built north of State Highway 37, or in the hamlet of Louisville and the Louisville portion of Chase Mills. Wind energy facilities must also be at least 1,000 feet away from the Louisville portion of the Grasse River.