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Pomfret Zoning Board approves wind turbine

A town of Pomfret agricultural business officially has approval to build a wind turbine on its property.

The town’s Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing Monday to consider the appeal of Dennis Rak, the owner of Double A Vineyards Inc., located at 10277 Christy Road. Mark Ferrara of the Cazenovia Equipment Company (which sells, services and supports renewable energy projects) was on hand, as well, and represented Rak. The appeal was approved unanimously by the board.

“Basically, what this is is to install a 50-kilowatt, small wind turbine to generate electricity for the farm,” Rak said. “We have our residence there with some offices in it, plus our storage building … which has several compressors we use to have cold storage in there. We use a significant amount of electricity between those locations and we’re looking at ways to help minimize our electricity costs over time.”

The public hearing was necessary in allowing for the turbine because the tower is expected to be about 136 feet tall and the blade height will be about 172 feet. Under Pomfret’s Wind Energy Facilities Law, the maximum allowed for the tower is 120 feet while the maximum allowed for the blade is 150 feet.

Before the public hearing, the board looked into the height of a communications tower that is close to the area where the turbine will be constructed, according to Chairman Samuel Allesi. Board member Raymond Lewandowski said DFT Communications told him that tower is 190 feet tall.

Rak said there will be a 20-year lease on the wind turbine through an agreement between Cazenovia Equipment and United Wind. The turbine will be located in the middle of some grape vineyards on the land and it will take the place of a tree there.

“It’s a very quiet turbine and it was designed with knowing it’s going to have to be close to houses and farms,” Ferrara said. “It’s for powering a facility, and so it was designed to not be on a wind farm out in the middle of nowhere.”

Ferrara said after the 20-year lease, there will be an option to buy the turbine at fair market value. He added construction on the turbine should occur early on in the summer of 2014.

Before voting on the appeal, the board filled out a New York State Environmental Quality Review Form, as required by state law, and gave a negative declaration on the project. That means the turbine is not expected to have any adverse impact on the environment.