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Dix mulls wind farm regulations  

Credit:  GLENDA GEPHART | Star-Gazette | April 20, 2015 | www.stargazette.com ~~

WATKINS GLEN – The Town of Dix is trying to craft wind farm regulations that would protect residents and properties while not deterring wind farm development.

The sought-after balance also is aimed at maintaining some control over wind farm operations and avoiding a takeover by state regulators, Supervisor Harold Russell said at an informational meeting Monday night.

The informational meeting comes in advance of a formal public hearing at 6:30 p.m. April 27 at the Dix Town Hall, 304 Seventh St. in Watkins Glen.

The wind farm regulations are proposed as amendments to the town’s zoning laws.

About 25 people attended Monday’s meeting at the Clute Park Community Center. When asked for a show of hands of Town of Dix residents, fewer than 10 responded. Most indicated they were residents of the Town of Catlin, which borders Dix on the south.

Both towns were identified in 2012 as sites in a $200 million wind farm project of 50 to 75 turbines across Schuyler and Chemung counties. The project is proposed by Florida-based NextEra, one of the largest power providers in the country.

Dix Town Attorney David English, of Penn Yan, said the proposed zoning law amendments do not target any specific project.

The proposed amendments cover private windmills and utility-scale wind farms. Both would be permitted in most of the town, but their specific locations would be determined by setback distances from adjoining property lines and structures, and by the size of the windmill or wind turbine.

Catlin Planning Board Chairman Jim Plate urged Dix officials to be more aggressive in their wind farm regulations. In particular, he said, setback limits should be increased to protect neighboring properties.

“Setbacks are the answer, and setbacks are what the companies fight,” Plate said.

English and Russell said more than a year’s work, consulting with engineers, involved regulatory agencies and energy companies, has gone into the proposed regulations. The key, they said, is to protect residents and their properties without being too restrictive.

“If you make it too restrictive, the state will just throw it out the door, and the developers will come in and do whatever they want,” Russell said. “We’re stuck in between. We simply can’t ban them. We’re trying to gain some control.”

New York regulates facilities generating 25 megawatts or greater, but local municipalities can remain involved in the siting process, English said.

People in the audience expressed concerns about wind turbine impacts on wildlife such as bats, owls, hawks and eagles. Health risks to humans also were questioned, as was the effect on property values.

Russell said that if commercial wind operations come into Dix, the town must benefit.

“It might help buy a firetruck or something like that,” he said, adding that the town also must consider the property owners who are interested in siting turbines.

“We have an obligation to landowners who have a right to get an income from their property,” Russell said.

The proposed zoning law amendments can be seen at the Town of Dix website, on the Bulletin Board page, at townofdix.com/Dix Wind Energy Proposed Zoning Amend.pdf.

Source:  GLENDA GEPHART | Star-Gazette | April 20, 2015 | www.stargazette.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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