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Morristown wind law set for review

MORRISTOWN – Supervisor Frank L. Putman said he believes the town’s proposed wind energy law “is as close to fair and equitable to the masses” as possible.

“After receiving assistance from our local wind committee, the St. Lawrence County planning office and our consultant, as well as from the town attorney, I think we have a pretty solid law,” Mr. Putman said Monday. “At least that’s what I’m hearing as feedback from these entities.”

The final draft of the proposal is to be reviewed Wednesday during a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the town offices, 604 Main St.

“What I expect to accomplish is a review of the lawyer’s suggestions, with the board to edit those into the law to our satisfaction. I

suspect a public hearing will be scheduled after that,” he said.

Spending several years on establishing the law doesn’t mean the town board is dragging its feet, he said.

“In one respect, I don’t see the urgency in it. There is a lot to cover, and we wanted to be sure it contained everything we perceived pertinent,” he said of the law.

As for public opinion, Mr. Putman didn’t want to speculate.

“I haven’t really pondered the reaction. I guess we’ll cross that bridge with the public hearing,” he said.

At first glance, the revamped proposal looks much the same as it did when the Morristown Wind Committee presented it to the town board on May 11, 2010, although at that time it lacked a noise standard, which committee members said they did not feel qualified to establish.

Since then, the law has been reviewed by the St. Lawrence County Planning Office and consultant LaBella Associates P.C., Rochester.

Earlier this year, the board decided that the sound pressure level produced by a turbine should not exceed 45 decibels, measured at a site’s property line, and set a maximum increase of ambient sound at 6 decibels.

Setbacks remain at one-and-a-half times the total height of a turbine, including the length of the rotating blades, from the nearest property line, public road, edge of the town’s wind overlay district and from any non-turbine structure or aboveground utility. There is also a 1,200-foot setback from any off-site residence existing at the time a wind company submits an application to the town board.

Mr. Silver has suggested including in the law’s abatement section language prohibiting a wind company from temporarily turning on a turbine to avoid being inoperative for a one-year period, in which case the company would remove the turbine at its own expense.

He also suggested that any company looking to construct a wind farm should be forced to post and maintain a decommissioning fund at 100 percent of the cost of taking down the turbines and refurbishing the site, rather than the 50 percent stipulation currently in the law.

Also scheduled for Wednesday’s special meeting is a visit from representatives of Castle Cable, an Alexandria Bay franchise proposing a fiber optic line in Morristown. The meeting is open to the public.