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Lyme passes comprehensive plan to limit towers as a hurdle for wind power

CHAUMONT – Revisions to the proposed Lyme comprehensive plan allow for the Town Council to either outlaw wind turbines in the town or place strict rules on their placement.

The council got its first look at the revisions, which were supposed to reflect the results of the town’s recent survey of residents on wind restrictions, during the council’s meeting on Wednesday night.

“We incorporated the latest wind survey results into the comprehensive plan created a year prior,” said Andrew R. Nevin, senior planner for the Jefferson County Planning Department, who assisted the town’s Planning Board on the comprehensive plan. “We tried to make a square peg fit in a round hole.”

The town sent out surveys on the comprehensive plan in 2009, from which they developed a revised comprehensive plan. But after the plan was finished, the debate over wind turbine zoning continued to rage.

The wind power survey showed 64 percent of the 1,621 respondents in the town opposed turbines while 35 percent supported them.

The newest action the plan recommends is to “create a wind facilities law to address the visual, noise, and associated impacts of industrial wind turbines and associated transmission facilities. The majority of respondents to the 2011 Town of Lyme Wind survey indicated they are opposed to industrial wind development anywhere within the Town.”

But the plan then lays out where and under what restrictions industrial turbines should be allowed:

■ In the area north of the Chaumont River and east of Route 12E and the area south of the Chaumont River and east of Route 12E.

■ With setbacks from the waterfront, village of Chaumont and hamlet of Three Mile Bay of 4,500 feet.

■ With setbacks to allow noise up to five decibels above ambient noise levels at property lines.

Changes to the comprehensive plan will precede any changes to the zoning law. The council will hold a public hearing on the entire comprehensive plan at 6 p.m. Dec. 14 at the town offices, 12175 Route 12E. The entire plan, including the revisions, will be available for public review at the town offices and the Lyme Free Library within a week.

Councilwoman Anne H. “Boo” Harris said the Planning Board and county department did “a wonderful job.”

Councilman Warren A. Johnson, who will retire from the council after December, pushed the council to move as quickly as possible.

In other business, the council agreed to send a letter to William Borden and Georgia Borden Cox to ask them to submit a form to the Federal Aviation Administration to remove the “Salubrious Point Airport” from its database.

“I think that form has to be filed and this thing goes away,” Councilman Daniel J. Villa said.

Mr. Johnson apologized for calling Mrs. Cox a liar, saying, “It was a poor choice of words by me.”

When Mrs. Cox initially proposed in 1998 to build an airport with a 3,000-foot-long runway on her property between Guffin and Sawmill bays, Mr. Johnson led an effort to stop the project, citing safety and noise concerns.

A petition with 119 signatures was submitted to the town that year and Mrs. Cox agreed to withdraw her application to the FAA in a 1999 state Supreme Court settlement between the couple and the town of Lyme.

Mr. Johnson said the FAA reports no contact was made after the initial application.

“The town is liable if we let this exist,” he said.