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New Hartford Town Board votes down windmill legislation

The New Hartford Town Board voted 4-1 Wednesday night against proposed legislation that would regulate and site wind-energy facilities.

The proposed ordinance classified three types of windmills: large, with a maximum height of 500 feet; small, with a maximum height of 180 feet; and residential, with a maximum height of 50 feet, Town Codes Officer Joseph Booth has said.

The proposal also included criteria for issues such as visual impact, noise, electromagnetic interference, avian impact, and fiscal and economic impact.

Councilmen David Reynolds, Rich Woodland, Paul Miscione and Town Supervisor Patrick Tyksinski voted against the proposal. Councilman Don Backman was in favor.

Backman said he wanted the protection that the legislation would give, even if it’s just preliminary.

“I want something to regulate this,” Backman said. “We have a reasonable solution. This is not inviting them in and it’s not kicking them out. It’s a common-sense regulation.”

Tyksinski vehemently protested the inclusion of the large commercial windmills.

“I’ve been up close to these things and they’re annoying. I’ve got to be honest with you,” he said. “You’re creating, in my opinion, a hazard for the community with very little efficiency. … I think these things are noisy, they’re cumbersome – personally, I think they’re ugly.”

Without legislation, the current procedure would be for someone proposing a wind-energy project to take it to the town codes officer. Booth said he would deny it based on a lack of previous case law and refer them to the Town Zoning Board.

In other business, the board unanimously accepted property maintenance legislation changes. The changes allow the town to expedite the process for taking care of neglected lawns.

If a lawn is more than 10 inches in height, the property owner will receive a notice from the Town Codes Department and will have 10 days to respond. If the issue is not corrected, the department will take immediate action, placing the cost of the maintenance on the tax lien.