Cape Vincent – the draft of the updated zoning law was mostly praised, but also criticized during a public comment session held June 27.
Prior to the session, the committee received a letter from British Petroleum’s director of development for wind energy, Richard Chandler, the letter stated, in part, that he feels the new restrictions set forth in the draft zoning law are unreasonably burdensome and highly restrictive.
The letter asks that the committee reconsider its recommendations.
With the vague threat of New York State taking over decisions on wind turbine sites under article X, town leaders feel that it is imperative to have an updated zoning and win law in place before the town imposed moratorium on wind development expires.
Most of the citizens choosing to speak thanked and complemented the 10 – person committee that has worked six hours each week since the beginning of the year on updating the full zoning law, which includes new specifications for industrial wind development.
While numerous aspects of zoning were laid out in the draft document, an underlying theme of the comments related to wind development, and issue that has caused a rift in Cape Vincent.
Dave La Mora commented that the issue of wind development has divided the town for the past six of the seven years that it’s been considered.
Mr. LaMora referred to the fact that the room, even in the current meeting, was physically divided, with Pro – wind and anti-– wind on the opposite sides of the aisle.
He said the governmental procedures followed in the six – year. Were not consistent with the comprehensive plan and zoning laws and that they were practically ignored.
He warned the committee and community the Cape Vincent needs to follow the principles and goals that have become the plan for the community. He said relying on the comprehensive plan will allow for a fair government, which will enable the community to come back together.
“If we allow 400 or 500 – foot – high turbines to alter the landscape, it is not ‘mitigatable.’ We have to be sure to follow the comprehensive plan.”
Like the draft zoning law, the draft comprehensive plan was also arrived at by the consensus of the committee, and it discourages industrial wind development in the town.
Paul Mason expressed his view that agriculture, which has been his family’s way of life for several generations, has fallen to the wayside in the town’s priorities, and the river and tourism have taken center stage.
He noted that the draft laws promote the preservation of the character of the town, and agriculture has also been part of the town’s character.
Mr. Mason pointed out it is farm equipment makes a certain amount of noise and said, you’re getting a little too restrictive on these issues.”
He reminded the committee that a Zogby poll indicated that more residents were in favor of, rather than against, wind development.
“You’re actually shutting wind right out of the community,” he said.
The draft zoning law calls for stricter setback distances and sound restrictions, as well as designating areas where wind turbines are prohibited.
Donald Metzger asked the committee to include standards for in for sound in the zoning law, as well as audible sound. He explained that in for sound is a sound that isn’t really heard, but can be felt reverberating, even within buildings.
Another reoccurring topic was the issue of caste – office equipment and other items detracting from residential properties. Hester Chase said that she was an absolute agreement with the more than 90% of the recommended changes, but questions the judgment of what is considered to be valuable and what is considered to be junk. Ms. Chase explained that antiquated farm equipment on her property is often rebuilt for agricultural use or art.
Mike Bell commented on the ambiguity of the definition of lawn ornaments.
Town supervisor urban Hershey said to the panel,” thank you for your tremendous effort. Change is inevitably painful and, at the same time, usually rewarding.”
Committee spokesperson Bob Brown informed the public they each comment, including the 12 written comments that had been submitted, will be specifically considered by the committee, and modifications may be made to the draft law before it is presented to the town board.
The public comments will be made public, and the final edited draft will be available on the town website for viewing.