CLAYTON – The Town Council, upon approving a stricter wind-power zoning law unanimously Wednesday night, pledged to put a stricter cap on wind turbine noise levels soon.
“I think we all agree that we need to drop this level from 50,” said Christopher D. Matthews, referring to the town’s 50-decibel noise limit for commercial wind turbines under Local Law No. 1 of 2007.
Mr. Matthews said that the new limit should be “consistent with neighboring towns” and that he would like to see it agreed upon within the next couple of months.
“We have some documentation and research done by the town’s wind committee that we can lean on, as well as additional information if we need that,” Councilman Robert W. Cantwell III said.
Clayton’s wind committee recommended that the council limit turbine noise levels to 5 decibels above ambient, among other restrictions on wind development in the town.
This is the town board’s second attempt at adopting stricter noise limits for commercial wind turbines.
On April 28, 2010, Clayton rejected a proposed wind law that would have expanded setbacks and further limited noise levels with two “no” votes – by Supervisor Justin A. Taylor and the late Councilman Donald I. Turcotte.
The motion required a supermajority vote owing to a pro-wind petition submitted to the board.
A year later, Mr. Taylor made a 180-degree turn on the issue and proposed stricter regulations on wind development.
Mr. Taylor’s zoning amendment, adopted 5-0 at a regular town board meeting Wednesday, increases wind turbine setbacks to 1,250 feet from nonparticipating property lines, instead of from residences, and requires wind companies to reimburse wind district residents if they are unable to sell their properties at assessed value after a year, among other things.
Under the new set of criteria for commercial wind farms, developers also will be required to have 75 percent of each turbine and its structural components manufactured in the United States and 75 percent of the work force used to construct and install the turbines come from Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties.
“The biggest thing we need to wrestle is: what is ambient?” Mr. Taylor said. “How do you measure it? When do you measure it? What time of the year do you measure it? How high do you have the measuring device? There are so much non-definable points.”
Mr. Taylor said the town board will “not be able to please everybody” with its new noise limits but is nonetheless committed to developing “defendable and reasonable” restrictions on noise.
“The law needs to be the right thing for the community,” Mr. Taylor said. “What is the right noise level? We’re going to get into this deeper and figure out what that is.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding