CLAYTON – Town Supervisor Justin A. Taylor, who voted against stricter regulations on wind development exactly a year ago today, called for a far stricter set of criteria for commercial wind farms to follow that would have an impact on any projects proposed for the town.
Included in his recommendations at a Town Council meeting Wednesday are increased setbacks for wind turbines and measures to protect property values in the wind overlay district.
He proposed amendments to the town’s wind law, or Local Law No. 1 of 2007, that would increase the setbacks to 1,250 feet from nonparticipating property lines instead of from residences and require wind companies to reimburse wind district residents if they are unable to sell their properties at assessed value after a year, among other things.
“Is it perfect? Is it the right number? I don’t know. But it’s better than what we’ve got now,” Mr. Taylor said. “At this point in time, it gives us an opportunity and the applicant an opportunity to make adjustments before any shovels are put in the ground.”
Clayton’s Planning Board is holding public hearings for Iberdrola Renewables’ draft environmental impact statement for the 48-turbine Horse Creek Wind Farm. The developers are hoping to break ground on the $230-million project in the spring of 2013 and complete it by the end of that year.
Mr. Taylor’s proposal also includes an amendment to the zoning law that would preclude any wind or good-neighbor contracts from allowing Clayton’s wind law to be circumvented.
“Property owners can’t sign an agreement that waives their rights to the protections of our zoning ordinance. If it’s set at 1,250 feet from your property line, you can’t say ‘I’m OK with it at 900,'” Mr. Taylor said.
If approved by the town board, the new wind law also would require that:
■ Wind developers have 75 percent of each turbine and its structural components manufactured in the U.S. and 75 percent of the work force used to construct and install the turbines come from Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties.
■ Wind developers pay a fine of $1,000 per week for each violation – the maximum penalty allowed under state law.
■ The town government create a “renewable energy fund” that would be used to mitigate the impacts of wind farms to property owners in the overlay district, provide grants to residential or small commercial renewable energy projects and support alternative energy projects for town-owned facilities.
■ The town government not accept any less than a 40 percent share of revenues from payment-in-lieu-of-taxes and/or host community agreements for commercial wind development projects.
The developer expects $768,000 annually through a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.
Councilman Lance L. Peterson said he would support the proposed changes. Councilmen Robert W. Cantwell III and Christopher D. Matthews declined to comment. Councilman George E. Kittle was absent from Wednesday’s town board meeting.
Clayton residents, including Kenneth J. Knapp and Cindy L. Grant, applauded Mr. Taylor’s new stance.
On April 28, 2010, Mr. Taylor had cast the deciding vote to keep Clayton’s wind law as is, against the Clayton Wind Committee’s recommendations to expand setbacks and put a stricter cap on noise levels.
However, Mr. Knapp said he would like the town to provide further protection for town residents outside the wind district who might see their property values drop because of the wind farm.
Ms. Grant said the town also should put a 50-dBA cap on noise and revoke zoning permits if the wind developer fails to address concerns within a given time frame.
Mr. Taylor said it would take the town board at least two months before it will be able to vote on the issue and adopt the proposed zoning amendments. The town is required to hold a public hearing before adopting any changes to its law.
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