The Ancram Town Board voted unanimously Thursday to begin the process of revoking the special use permits for wind turbines on the properties of Michael Gershon and Joseph Crocco on Carson Road.
Numerous noise complaints from abutting neighbors led to the action. Under the terms of the permits, they can be revoked if the applicant engages in any misrepresentation of fact, said Supervisor Art Bassin, “and that’s the case here.”
When the Zoning Board of Appeals granted special use permits for the turbines in 2010, the applicants said the turbines were “extremely quiet,” “almost silent,” according to the resolution.
In fact, the resolution goes on, “it has become apparent that during certain wind conditions, these turbines make groaning and/or hovering helicopter noises that disturb the neighbors’ peace and quiet …”
Bassin said this is the first time in his memory the town has ever moved to revoke a permit. But, he said, revocation is the last resort and he hopes to work this out by meeting with Gershon and Crocco and by their communicating with Mike Bergey, the manufacturer of the turbines.
Bassin also has to talk to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to see whether Crocco’s turbine is protected because he has an alpaca farm.
“We are a farm,” Crocco said at the meeting. “We comply with everything else that’s required. I figured I was safe … Ag and Markets looks on a turbine as a piece of farm equipment.”
He asked for a delay so he could get a determination from that department.
“If not, I can appeal to the Zoning Board; that would stay any action by the town. If not, I could file an Article 78,” Crocco said. “I’d like to take the path of least resistance; I don’t know how long the state will take to get back to us.”
Bassin said he would talk to Bob Summers at Ag and Markets.
“Tonight, I’ll ask the Town Board to pass a resolution including you,” he said. “My intent is the same as yours: I want the noise to be abated, whatever we can do with Bergey, whenever.”
“Any turbine that size is going to make 50 to 60 decibels,” Crocco said.
Neighbor Joe Amato said 60 decibels is 100 times as loud as 50.
“Sound is an environmental issue,” he said. “We are being exposed to sound waves that have high energies. That was not exposed at the time of permitting.”
“The problem is when the wind comes up,” said Amato’s brother, Sebastian. “In the day you deal with it, but at nighttime, it can drive you crazy. I don’t want to hear chuck-chuck all night – it’s like a helicopter path.”
“I know the sound levels are high when the windows are shaking,” said another neighbor.
Amato called it a medical issue, as the noise is impacting people’s health.
“A farm cannot dump manure in your house,” he said.
The measure was adopted unanimously.
Councilman Hugh Clark said he appreciated the neighborly manner in which Crocco approached the issue.
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