Some residents are upset with a proposal by actor Judd Hirsch to built a 176-foot tall wind turbine on a 42.3-acre property off of Yeagerville Road.
The plan is scheduled to be reviewed by the town Zoning Board of Appeals at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Town Hall at 1567 Denning Road.
“It will be a privately owned wind turbine that will be placed on a tower on private property for the use of electricity,” project engineer Sherret Chase said. “It will offset the electricity that would otherwise be purchased from the utility company.”
Chase said the three-blade turbine is designed to generate 100,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year and there would be no excess sold back to the grid.
“He has six meters on his property and the combined usage of all of his loads, a couple residences, is in that magnitude,” he said. “An average house across the country would use about 20,000 kilowatt hours a year.”
Chase said the turbine is significantly smaller than those in the array seen in the Berkshires, where 10 units are up to 390 feet tall, but no balloon tests have been scheduled to determine the impact on neighbors. He does not expect Hirsch’s unit to be visible from “anywhere except the old school house at the top of Yeagertown Road or from a very large distance away to the east.”
Chase also contends there will be no noise impact on neighbors.
“Three hundred feet from the machine it’s inaudible to most ears,” he said. “It would be 43 decibels … much less than you would hear through the window of your house. From the 1,500 feet away to the nearest neighbor actually no sound will be heard.”
However, a petition being circulated by residents contends that Hirsch should consider solar panels that would be within existing town zoning law.
“We believe that allowing the installation of a turbine of this scale … would unjustly disrupt the lives of all the people who live in its proximity,” residents wrote. “In addition to the well-documented issues of noise, sunlight flickering, health concerns, impact on wildlife, the approval of its installation and the change of the land use codes would open the door to all types of repercussions, including commercial enterprises that would bring nothing more than a marred landscape to the residents of the town of Denning.”
Neighbor Franca Dantes said she has owned a home on Yeagerville Road for 28 years and would consider the wind turbine to be an abomination.
“Wind turbines can be nice in certain situations but they can be very noisy and we are very concerned,” she said. “This is where we have chosen to live and spend our retirement. The last thing we want is something noisy 24/7 drilling in your head.”
Dantes added that she expects the turbine to be visible when the leaves are off the trees and from above the tree line during the rest of the year.
“I can just imagine having a turbine … peeking out from the canopy,” she said.
Resident Tiffany Gillman in a letter to the Freeman contends the spinning turbine blades, which rotate about once per second, will disrupt her family.
“Although I am a huge proponent of green technologies it brings me sadness to know that the ZBA is eager to vote on an issue that will transform the landscape of Denning, the surrounding towns, and the lives of my neighbors and family forever for the benefit of one individual,” she wrote. “Should the variance be granted my son will never know the silence that descends after a snowstorm ends without hearing the constant ‘whoosh’ of the turbine. He will never again look up at the blue sky without seeing the flickering of the turbine’s spinning blades.”
Resident Chrys Papadopoulos in a letter to the Freeman contends the project would cause “displacement of wildlife … inner ear sensitivity in humans to infrasound vibration, sound pollution, and cosmetic marring of the landscape.”
Hirsch could not be reached for comment about the concerns.
In minutes to the town Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Oct. 30, Chairman Mark Boncek wrote that the biggest concerns from neighbors was line of sight.
“To the east of all these properties is a magnificent view of the Shawangunk Mountain range,” he wrote. “The wind turbine would not block this view for anyone. Homes on the northeast section of Yeagerville Road starting by the schoolhouse would be able to see the turbine to (the) right as they head south for about a quarter of a mile.”
Boncek added that information provided by Chase from the National Audubon Society found there was no impact on bird population.
However, Dantes contends more information is needed to determine whether there would be an impact on birds specific to the region.
“Nearby in the (Rondout Reservoir) there is an eagle watch which is famous,” she said. “People come from all over the place and look at these birds for hours.”
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