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Madison board hears concerns on proposed law

Setbacks and turbine heights appeared to be the main issues at the Madison Town Board’s May 29 public hearing to take comments concerning the proposed windmill regulations that are currently in the board’s hands.

The proposed law is in response to concerns over the possible construction of as many as 36 wind turbines in the township. Known as the Rolling Uplands Wind Farm, the 492 foot turbines would be constructed on approximately 7,500 acres including some in close proximity to homes.

Following a moratorium on the project last year, a wind advisory committee was formed to review the current law. The committee reviewed the law and the proposed project and presented their report, along with a proposed law, to the Madison Planning Board on Feb. 6. It was, in turn, approved by the planning board and turned over to the town board for action.

The board reviewed the law and released its final draft on May 24. The proposed law would allow the maximum height of an Industrial Scale Wind Energy Facility (ISWEF), which the proposed turbines would be, to be 400 feet to its furthest vertical extension, as opposed to 390 feet in the law presented by the committee. The setback requirement was also changed from 3,650 feet to six and one-half times the tip height of the turbine (2,600 feet) from the property line of any Non-Participating Property Owner – one who has no contractual agreement with the applicant.

During last week’s public hearing, numerous opponents to the proposed law requested that the setbacks be as much as seven times the height and some requested the maximum height be less than 400 feet.

A representative from Horizon Wind Energy told the board that the height requirement would limit construction of windmills new or the replacement of the current ones as that size is no long being constructed.

“The issue before you is that of compromise. It’s up to them [the developer] to build to fit our plan,” said resident Paul Bookbinder. “You are our David against their Goliath.”

Many residents who currently have windmills on their property spoke in favor of the project and others cited their rights as property owners to sign agreements to allow the construction, especially on land that is unusable and sitting idle.

Howard “Bill” Snyder told the board that he was looking forward to having the money to pay for his grandchildren’s education.

“It’s my bathtub and I do want a whale in it,” he said emphatically.

Snyder was speaking in response to a statement earlier in the evening when one speaker referred to the recent survey and how to respond as to whether or not he was in favor of wind power – “it’s like if I’m asked if I like whales. Yes, I like whales but I don’t want one in my bathtub,” he said.

“We are asking for fair and reasonable setbacks,” commented Pam Fuller. “It’s all about the setbacks. . . .it must not be about the money, it’s about the people.”

As the meeting came to a close, Supervisor Ron Bono told the audience that the topic will be addressed at the next meeting of the town board, set for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 13, in the town office, located in the village hall on Route 20. A copy of the proposed law is also available under the Permit and Forms heading at www.townofmadisonny.org.