May 4, 2011
New York

Hammond considers sound standard

By Matt McAllister, The Journal, 4 May 2011

HAMMOND – The Hammond Town Council is leaning toward eliminating one of three sound standards proposed by the wind advisory committee for the local wind ordinance.

“I personally don’t see the reasoning behind an additional, unnecessary component,” Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram said Tuesday of the three-tiered noise standard proposed by the committee. “I really don’t understand the benefit of a three-hour time slot. I think it would create more of a problem than anything else.”

The current Hammond wind law, under moratorium since a new town board took office on Jan. 1, 2010, contains a “not to exceed 45 (A-weighted) decibel and/or 33 (C-weighted) decibel limit when measured at the nearest inhabited off-site dwelling, school, hospital, church or public building existing at the time of application.”

Additionally, the law states that if the ambient, or existing, sound level exceeds 45 dBA and/or 33 dBC, the standard shall be the ambient plus 5 dBA and/or dBC.

The wind advisory committee has suggested adopting sound standards developed by Dr. Paul D. Schomer, an acoustical engineer from the Chicago area. Dr. Schomer’s sound standards involve three separate time intervals, including 45 dBA or 63 dBC from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; 40 dBA or 58 dBC from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m.; and 35 dBA or 53 dBC from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Mr. Bertram said he, along with Dr. James R. Tague and Douglas E. Delosh, the three board members who have not recused themselves from discussing wind issues, agreed Monday to eliminate the evening standard, though no formal action took place at the meeting.

“The bottom line is that we want it quieter for sleeping hours,” he said.

A separate discussion Monday centered upon setback distances, currently set at “the greater of one and one-half times the total tower height or 500 feet” from the nearest site boundary property line, public road, nearest edge of the wind overlay district, the nearest off-site residence existing at the time of application, and from any non-wind structure or aboveground utility.

“For all intents and purposes, the original setbacks are not safe for the public. We want setbacks that are,” Mr. Bertram said.

Wind committee-proposed setbacks increase all of those listed above to “six times the total height” of the proposed turbines. The committee has also suggested adding a 1.5-mile setback from Route 12, as well as setbacks from the St. Lawrence River and state and federal wetlands.

The difference between current setback limits and those proposed by the wind committee present a big discrepancy in how far a 497-foot-tall turbine, as proposed for Hammond by Iberdrola Renewables, would be away from people’s houses and public roads.

Under the current law, such a turbine could be less than 750 feet away from a non-participating neighbor’s property line, while the wind committee’s proposal would put it at a distance of 2,982 feet from the same property line.

“I want to be able to justify,” making such a change, Mr. Bertram said. “If six times is too much, a happy medium must be found to establish safer sighting.”

Wind discussions will continue May 16 at 7 p.m. in the Hammond Public Library.

The town council meets next on Monday, also at 7 p.m. in the library.

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