VESTAL – A plan to establish a town law regulating the installation of wind energy generators has stalled.
The Vestal Town Board recently voted to adjourn the public hearing – which means it can be revisited at a later date – on the proposed law after it received criticism from residents.
The problem isn’t with regulating wind energy generators, said Tom Murphy, a member of the South West Vestal Neighborhood Association. Rather, he said, the trouble is with the ambiguity of the submitted legislation.
Using words such as “may” instead of “shall” leaves open too many holes for possible abuse of the ordinance, Murphy said, adding the proposed law gives landowners and others the ability to erect commercial-grade wind emergency generators – which can reach up to 400 feet in height – on any rural residential neighborhood.
“This is something everybody in a rural residential neighborhood should know about it,” he said of the proposed ordinance.
Also troublesome, Murphy said, is the legislation’s failure to mention energy parks, areas where several commercial wind generators would be constructed.
“These laws don’t say anything about that,” he said.
Board member Fran Majewski said he thinks the proposed law needs some changes, specifically when it comes to small residential wind energy generator systems.
Many are the size of satellite dishes, he said, so he sees no problem allowing homeowners to install them in neighborhoods other than those that are rural residential.
In the near future, the wind systems will likely get even smaller, making them even more desirable for individuals, Majewski said.
“I don’t like the way it’s written right now,” he said. “I think it’s too restrictive for what’s coming down the road.”
The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority – www.nyserda.org – has information on best practices for municipalities when it comes to wind energy generator legislation, recommending towns adopt formal comprehensive plans for dealing with it, Murphy said.
That’s something Vestal officials should look at so they can not only address small wind generators that supply electricity to a household, but also regulate commercial wind generators that are far bigger and can affect many town residents’ lives, he added.
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