PARISHVILLE – Parishville is sharing more than just a border line with the town of Hopkinton.
The two towns have worked closely with one another as both continue develop a local wind law. And now, Parishville officials have decided to adopt a portion of Hopkinton’s law as their own.
Town Supervisor Jerry G. Moore said he hopes the changes will encourage wind developers to build on infertile scrub land and fence lines as opposed to the middle of valuable crop fields.
“We are very concerned about losing tillable acres,” he said. “This is a big issue for us. We don’t want to ruin all our valuable farmland.”
Throughout the country, 23 million acres of farmland, roughly the size of the state of Indiana, has been lost in the past 25 years, according to an American Farmland Trust study. This loss equals out to roughly an acre per minute, the study found.
Mr. Moore said the town must work to protect its valuable farming land and needed to develop a law to reflect that need.
But with just a single paragraph addressing the requirements developers need to follow when building in or around agricultural areas, officials decided they need to elaborate on the restrictions and looked to their neighbors for guidance.
“I think these additional pages will really spell it all out,” Mr. Moore said. “Here it is, in black and white.”
But because of their desire to see turbines developed on the edge of property lines, officials were forced to do away with certain setback requirements. Parishville’s former proposal required a wind turbine be built 500 feet from neighboring property, forcing farmers to sacrifice land in the middle of their fields should they agree to host a wind turbine.
After evaluating other setback requirements developed by Hopkinton and other neighboring towns, officials in Parishville decided to eliminate that setback in a case where two land owners agreed to development on their property.
The alteration allows for turbines to be placed on the edge of a property line, with the two owners splitting the profits, Mr. Moore said, and ultimately encourages developers to build their turbines on unusable scrubland or fence lines.
“When two farms come together, a lot of time it’s just brush and trees,” he said. “Building there, in a place that isn’t worth anything, is a lot more sensible than to build a windmill in the middle of both properties.”
Town councilman Conrad D. Cook, who proposed a series of changes late last month, brought the idea before the planning board during a joint meeting Wednesday night.
“I think we need every drop of cropland we can get,” he said.
Councilwoman Kari E. Tremper said the town needs to be clear as they attempt to establish guidelines dictating the placement of turbines.
“If they are spending our federal tax dollars to build these things, they might as well build them how we want them,” she said.
As the town begins to finalize their proposal, Town Attorney Roger B. Linden said he will send the law to Hodgson Russ, a Buffalo-based consulting firm who has been helping to guide the town through the development of the law.
If the firm doesn’t find any substantial holes in the proposal it will be passed along to the county planning board. From there, Parishville will host a public meeting before voting on the proposal, a process Mr. Linden said is at least three months from completion.
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