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County planners give nod to Pendleton windmill regulations

WHEATFIELD – A set of regulations for residential wind power facilities in the Town of Pendleton won the approval of the Niagara County Planning Board Monday, with the recommendation that the town adopt a noise ordinance to go along with it.

As it happens, at the Town Board’s last meeting a resolution was passed to work out a noise ordinance with the town’s Planning Board, Town Attorney Claude A. Joerg said.

The draft wind power law applies only to homeowners who might want to place a windmill on their property. County Senior Planner Amy E. Fisk said commercial windmills are regulated by the state Public Service Commission, and farm windmills are governed by the state Division of Agriculture and Markets.

The Town Board will hold a public hearing May 11 on the windmill plan, which Fisk said includes “larger-than-normal setbacks and buffer requirements to insulate from noise. The town doesn’t have a noise ordinance.”

Joerg said Pendleton took up the wind power issue after a representative of a wind turbine company told its Town Board in November that she had a potential customer.

The draft ordinance says a person who erects a wind power facility must have at least a 5-acre lot. The windmill must go in the back yard and be placed more than 500 feet from any neighboring house. It also must be placed at least 1 1/2 times its own height from any building on the user’s property; for example, a 100-foot windmill must be at least 150 feet from any structure on the same property.

There also must be a buffer zone of at least the tower’s own height from any property lines, power lines, easements or rights of way.

There would be a 10-kilowatt limit on the power capacity of a residential windmill in Pendleton. The tower’s height must be between 30 feet and 120 feet, and the tower must be designed to be unclimbable “per industrial standards.”

The proposed law gives Pendleton’s code enforcement officer the power to stop construction for any violations of the permit. After construction, there will be an annual inspection, and if the tower falls into disrepair, the town has the authority to dismantle it and send the property owner the bill for the work.