Ulster County urges town of Denning to update zoning before letting actor Judd Hirsch put up wind turbine
DENNING >> The Ulster County Planning Department has recommended the town update its zoning before granting permission to actor Judd Hirsch to build a 176-foot-high wind turbine on his Yeagerville Road property.
The department made its recommendation in a letter to the Denning Zoning Board of Appeals, which is expected to vote on Hirsch’s application next month.
“I want that (county recommendation) on the town website for 30 days before we make any decision,” said board Chairman Mark Boncek.
“The county has no problem with it, it seems,” Boncek said. “The biggest recommendation was to the town itself – that we need to get some kind of zoning in place.”
In the letter to the town, County Principal Planner Robert Leibowitz wrote that because Denning’s zoning law does not mention wind turbines, they could be used either in all or none of the town.
“The town ZBA … needs to determine whether they have in front of them a use variance or if they are treating this as a ‘customary accessory use,’” Leibowitz wrote. “The Rural Residential District does allow for ‘various accessory uses’ but is silent as to allowing wind turbines as accessory. Some caution is needed as to determining that wind turbines are an accessory use, in that this would allow them in any district, and on any lot, regardless of size.”
Project engineer Sherret Chase has said the turbine on Hirsch’s land is proposed to generate 100,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
Hirsch lives on a 42.8-acre property on Yeagerville Road. The 78-year-old actor has had big and small screen roles since the early 1970s and is known for the TV sitcoms “Taxi” and “Dear John” and such movies as “Independence Day” and “Without a Trace.”
Leibowitz also said he town should update its zoning regulations to account for other alternative energy sources.
“The community should be proactive in permitting its residents to move to renewable energy sources that includes wind and solar,” he wrote “Applicants should not be left in regulatory limbo, nor should the community put itself at risk for failure to address the need to allow for these uses.”
Leibowitz also addressed noise concerns that have been raised by residents opposed to Hirsch’s proposed wind turbine.
“Rather than conduct a noise study, the applicant should be asked to produce noise results for similar windmills at the distance of the structure from the property line and note any neighbor noise complaints from any of its installations,” the planner wrote.
He also suggested the town have Hirsch show how much impact there would be on scenic views.
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